USA Today finds multiple VA hospitals hire doctors with legal problems

USA Today finds multiple VA hospitals hire doctors with legal problems
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The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hired doctors with a history of malpractice and legal complaints, according to a USA Today investigation published Sunday.

The newspaper cited multiple examples of doctors who faced legal action for previous work making it through the hiring process to work at a VA hospital.

In 2013, the VA hospital in Muskogee, Okla., hired Stephen Lester Greer, a psychiatrist who had been hit with disciplinary actions against his medical license, including for sexual misconduct. 

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He was hired anyway, and went on to have a sexual relationship with a patient, USA Today reported.

In another instance, John Henry Schneider, a neurosurgeon, faced more than a dozen malpractice claims and settlements in two states relating to cases in which surgeries he performed left patients further injured, paralyzed or dead.

He was hired earlier this year at the VA hospital in Iowa City, Iowa, according to USA Today, and some of his patients have already suffered complications. 

In response to the USA Today story, the VA said it is initiating an “independent, third-party clinical review” of care Schneider provided in Iowa City.

The VA typically vets applications, verifies an applicant’s education and licenses, checks references and conducts interviews before making a hire.

The Government Accountability Office reported last week that five medical centers within the VA failed to report eight potentially dangerous doctors to a national database. The database is intended to keep such doctors from crossing state lines and finding jobs elsewhere.