According to an explosive new USA Today investigation, the Department of Veterans Affairs is still hiring doctors with malpractice claims and even felony convictions in their professional histories.
According to the bombshell report, the VA, which Trump promised to clean up after the mess that transpired under Obama, has continued to use less-than-stringent hiring practices when vetting their physicians. While every potential hire must go through the process of license verification and reference-checking, VA officials are exercising what can only be described as FAR too much discretion when deciding who to bring on board.
The USA Today story cites a number of examples of doctors being hired over the past three or four years despite highly questionable black marks in their backgrounds. In one case, a Department hospital in Oklahoma hired a psychiatrist in 2013 who had been professionally reprimanded for sexual misconduct. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this psychiatrist initiated a sexual relationship with one of his VA patients and was forced to plead guilty to coercing the patient to lie about their contact.
But that’s child’s play compared to the case of neurosurgeon John Henry Schneider, whose misbehavior initiated the paper’s investigation in the first place. In private practice, Schneider “racked up more than a dozen malpractice claims and settlements in two states, including cases alleging he made surgical mistakes that left patients maimed, paralyzed, or dead.”
But who cares, right? Not the VA, which hired Schneider this year despite knowing all about his sordid history.
How did that turn out?
“Some of his patients already have suffered complications. Schneider performed four brain surgeries in a span of four weeks on one 65-year-old veteran who died in August, according to interviews with Schneider and family members,” USA Today reports. “He has performed three spine surgeries on a 77-year-old Army veteran since July — the last two to try and clean up a lumbar infection from the first, the patient said.”
“As a result of USA TODAY’s investigation of Schneider, VA officials determined his hiring — and potentially that of an unknown number of other doctors — was illegal,” the paper confirms.
Both President Trump and the Republican Congress have taken concrete steps to improve the situation at the VA since January, but this investigation and earlier testimony from some of the Department’s most candid whistleblowers signals that it hasn’t been enough. Trump ran partially on a platform of doing what’s right for our nation’s veterans, and we expect him to live up to that promise to the best of his ability. We don’t expect a miracle at the VA, but we cannot stand by as a nation and watch our wounded vets continue to get the short end of the stick.