Vetreran Health Affairs Attorneys

Physician Terminated From VA Hospital Is Reinstated With Back Pay

Professional:
Physician (Ohio)

Primary Issue:
Summary suspension of clinical privileges and removal from service (termination) from a Veterans Administration (VA) medical center for unethical and criminal conduct and “conduct unbecoming of a federal employee.”

Benefit of Using Chapman Law Group:
Experience in hospital clinical privileging and investigations, plus extensive knowledge of VA Handbooks, VA Directives, and federal laws allowed Chapman Law Group (CLG) to successfully defend a physician whose privileges were summarily suspended and who was terminated from employment at the VA for “conduct unbecoming of a federal employee.” The accusations involved unethical conduct and allegations of criminal conduct. The physician was accused of recommending treatment for personal gain rather than for the best interest of the patients.

Result:
After a 4-day hearing before the VA Disciplinary Appeals Board (DAB), Chapman Law Group (CLG) obtained a reinstatement to service with the VA, with back pay and benefits, for this physician. The DAB decision, approved by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Office for the Under Secretary for Health, found that the VA Medical Center had “no evidence” to support its allegations and that the VA’s own evidence “refutes the very reason for initiating the process.” The VA-DAB found that the physician behaved in an “ethical manner” and that the physician’s actions “reflected genuine concern” and was “purely based on serving the best interest of the patients.” The DAB opinion further stated, “…the manner in which the agency investigated and disciplined [the physician] appeared to support a predetermined outcome rather than following an appropriate investigation process.”

Notably, in the underlying case, the VA Medical center obtained an opinion from a VA Deputy Ethics Official (DEAO) stating that the physician’s conduct was unethical and in violation of criminal statutes by “the use of public office for private gain.” The DAB found that the VA Medical Center withheld important information from the ethics official which would have been critical to the analysis, stating, “The Board also notes that critically important documents were not provided to the VA Ethics Official and their absence may be viewed not only as practical but also an ethical lapse on the part of the agency, as decisions regarding standards of care should not have been made without the most relevant documents.”

Areas of law:
Veterans Affairs
Veterans Health Administration
Disciplinary Appeals Board (DAB)
Clinical Privileges
Summary Suspension

Attorney:
Laura A. Perkovic


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