Womack calls for examination of VA physician reinstatement process

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Washington, DC — Congressman Steve Womack (AR-3) today submitted public testimony to the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs as they held an oversight hearing to address medical credentialing, privileging, and reporting issues at VA Medical Centers. The hearing was scheduled following Womack’s statement in front of the committee last month, which highlighted the egregious misconduct of a former pathologist at the Fayetteville VA and called for a review of the actions taken by the VA to address the situation.

As the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee examines the VA’s systems for protecting veterans from clinical harm, Womack requested that they closely analyze the procedures for reinstating physicians following substance abuse issues. This issue is directly related to the situation that occurred at the Fayetteville VA. While former VA pathologist Robert Morris Levy was previously found to be intoxicated on the job, he was later returned to his supervisory position without proper oversight. This decision allowed him to falsify reviews of his work and ultimately conceal his misconduct, which harmed the health and well-being of Third District veterans.

Womack’s submitted testimony said, in part, “As I previously stated, I do not understand why, at the very least, an independent review procedure was not put in place to ensure Mr. Levy’s subordinates were able to submit their reviews without interference. I think this committee and the VA should look at the procedures for reinstating a physician following a substance abuse issue. Furthermore, I hope you will look at whether or not those physicians should be returned to supervisory positions.”

The committee will use the feedback to explore solutions to prevent future incidents and help ensure that veterans across the country continue to receive high quality and safe care. In addition to Womack’s testimony, witnesses from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Government Accountability Office, and other Congressional members also submitted testimony on medical facilities and their responsibilities in the areas of credentialing, privileging, and quality management.

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