Coverup: Veterans Affairs Paid Employees to Hide Malpractice
A USA Today investigation has revealed that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) protected a doctor who performed several botched surgeries. One of Dr. Thomas Francini’s patients experienced so much pain following two botched surgeries, that she had to have her leg amputated. The doctor performed unnecessary surgeries, drilled the wrong screw into a patient, and cut a major tendon in another.
In total, Dr. Franchini harmed 88 patients. The VA never fired him. Instead, Franchini finally resigned from the VA and went on to practice medicine elsewhere. He now works as a podiatrist in New York City. For several years, the VA failed to report Franchini’s long track record of surgical failures. The VA neglected to report Franchini to any state medical licensing boards. Now, veterans and civilians alike are wondering how many Americans this doctor harmed because the VA refused to take action.
VA Pays Bad Doctors to Stay Silent
The VA’s problem comprises more than one terrible surgeon. In fact, during 2014 and 2015, the VA made 230 secret settlements with its employees. Those employees received payment in exchange for covering up information about the VA’s medical errors.
Veterans have long known that the VA Earlier this year, Fox News Insider reported images of veterans, some suffering severe pain, being forced to wait in the lobby of the Durham VA Medical Center.
During the Obama Administration, the VA did not release details of mismanagement, poor patient care, or botched surgeries. USA Today reported that when the VA was asked for information “the agency cited federal privacy law and said protecting employees’ privacy outweighed the public’s right to know about problems involving veterans’ care.” In other words, the VA claims that a doctor’s right to secrecy outweighs the patients’ needs for quality care.
Signs of Change
The new VA Administrator, David Shulkin, shows signs of changing VA for the better. In June, President Trump signed a bill that makes it easier to remove bad employees and protect those who report misconduct. The New York Times reports that the law now has its first major test: Brian Hawkins, Director of the Washington Medical Center. The Washington Medical Center suffers from mismanagement, long wait times, and red tape. Shulkin claims he plans to fire Hawkins if an investigation finds that he “fail[s] to provide effective leadership.”