National News

VA: Pathologist was impaired; 19,000+ cases affected

Posted June 19, 2018 3:39 p.m. EDT

— The Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks is reviewing all cases read by a staff pathologist who was accused of possible impairment, according to a press release to media Monday, June 18, 2018.

U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman's office told 40/29 the VA informed Westerman that somebody from his district died as a result of the problem.

Arkansas' 4th Congressional District covers parts of Northwest Arkansas and the River Valley, as well as parts of southern Arkansas. Westerman's office told 40/29 that federal privacy laws prevented them from getting more information about the case.

Leadership received reports about the possible impairment of the pathologist on October 13, 2017. The pathologist was found unable to work, was immediately removed from clinical practice, and has since been terminated, according to the release.

Reviews of cases the pathologist worked on revealed errors and misdiagnoses, according to a release. Affected patients are being notified.

The VA said more than 19,000 cases at the facility in Fayetteville and other outpatient clinics were affected.

The rate of errors in cases read by the pathology "was not large," according to a release.

The review team is being run externally. In addition to looking over all cases, it will also establish a system for tracking second reviews of tests and protocols.

The VA says patients who may have questions or concerns should call 866-388-5428.

This pathologist had previously been removed from clinical care in March 2016, according to a release. The employee went through the 'Impaired Physician Program' and went back into clinical care in October 2016.

Arkansas' Congressional Delegation released a statement, saying "This alleged gross negligence by a physician charged with caring for our veterans is a disturbing revelation and a clear failure to uphold the Department of Veterans Affairs mission to the men and women who served our nation in uniform."

The statement called for the VA to notify patients whose cases were evaluated by the pathologist, and review their results. It also said the VA should remove any bad actors.