VA hospitals questioned over misleading physician qualification information

U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI) called for answers from acting Tomah, Wisconsin VA Medical Director Victoria Brahm on Friday following reports that misleading information about physician qualifications was provided to patients at Wisconsin and Minnesota VA hospitals.

“I am extremely concerned about recent reports that the Tomah VA Medical Center has failed to ensure that our nation’s veterans are receiving care from doctors who are properly licensed and certified to provide health services,” Duffy wrote in a letter to Brahm. “According to a recent KARE 11 news investigation, the Veterans Health Administration has repeatedly posted inaccurate and misleading information on its website concerning the competency and ability of its doctors to provide veterans with the care they deserve.

“It is troubling to think that the men and women who wore the uniform of the United States Armed Forces would be treated by doctors who should not be wearing a lab coat.”

According to the KARE 11 report, veteran Thomas Baer died in January following a series of strokes in a waiting room at the Tomah VA. Baer allegedly did not receive adequate or timely medical attention from the staff.

“A simple cross reference of the VA’s website with public records kept by state licensing authorities and trusted medical boards shows that several doctors either never had or lost the licenses and medical certifications which the VA claimed they had,” Duffy’s letter said. “While I could understand one or two mistakes like this, the fact that there are numerous known examples demonstrates a systematic failure at the VA to ensure that its records are updated at minimum, or at worst an effort to conceal basic yet essential information from our veterans which could compromise their care.”

Among the specific answers sought by Duffy’s letter is insight as to when the VA learned that it had misinformation on its website and what actions were taken after the VA was made aware of the situation. The letter also seeks information as to when any such actions were taken and if doctors that were incorrectly listed as certified or licensed on the site were compensated based upon the inaccurate information listed.

Additionally, Duffy’s letter questions if patients have been notified about the inaccurate information, if patient care was impacted by physicians either being denied a license or lacking updated certification, and what reviews of current health care providers and their licenses and certifications have been taken.

Duffy’s letter also requests information on what practices are followed to ensure that providers are up to date on licenses and certifications.