November 2017 GAO report finds the VA does not properly report doctors who fail to maintain ethical and medical standards

The following is an excerpt from a report released by the Government Accountability Office  (GAO) during November 2017. Full information below.

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical center (VAMC) officials are responsible for reviewing the clinical care delivered by their privileged providers—physicians and dentists who are approved to independently perform specific services—after concerns are raised.

The five VAMCs GAO selected for review collectively required review of 148 providers from October 2013 through March 2017 after concerns were raised about their clinical care. GAO found that these reviews were not always documented or conducted in a timely manner. GAO identified these providers by reviewing meeting minutes from the committee responsible for requiring these types of reviews at the respective VAMCs and through interviews with VAMC officials.

The selected VAMCs were unable to provide documentation of these reviews for almost half of the 148 providers. Additionally, the VAMCs did not start the reviews of 16 providers for 3 months to multiple years after the concerns were identified. GAO found that VHA policies do not require documentation of all types of clinical care reviews and do not establish timeliness requirements. GAO also found that the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) does not adequately oversee these reviews at VAMCs through its Veterans Integrated Service Networks (VISN), which are responsible for overseeing the VAMCs.

Without documentation and timely reviews of providers’ clinical care, VAMC officials may lack information needed to reasonably ensure that VA providers are competent to provide safe, high quality care to veterans and to make appropriate decisions about these providers’ privileges.

The report:

Report to the Chairman, Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, House of Representatives

VA HEALTH CARE: Improved Policies and Oversight Needed for Reviewing and Reporting Providers for Quality and Safety Concerns.