A recent report released by the Department of Veteran Affairs shows the government agency going to great lengths to cover up medical malpractice by its doctors. With over 100 procedures performed incompetently, the routinely-criticized government agency now has a new stain on its reputation. According to the government, most of these botched procedures can be blamed on a single doctor – Dr. Thomas Franchini.
The Department of Veteran Affairs states that of the 100 medical malpractice cases that surfaced during the investigation, 88 could be attributed to the doctor. The stunning number of victims is secondary only to the horrific damage he caused by his incompetence. Of the many examples given by USA Today, the doctor drilled the wrong screw into one veteran’s leg, he once “cut into patients who did not need surgery at all,” and, perhaps, most horrifically he failed to fuse the ankle of a woman. The resulting pain was so great that she chose to have her entire leg removed.
While the recklessness of a government agency allowing such an incompetent doctor to continue seeing patients would be appalling enough, reports show that the VA, including the higher-ups, had knowledge of the medical malpractice and did not act. As the old trope goes, the coverup is always worse than the crime. In a deposition, the hospital’s former surgery chief, Robert Sampson, said that the hospital “found that he was a dangerous surgeon.” After 88 instances of medical malpractice, that may be an understatement.
After allowing the so-called “dangerous surgeon” to harm 88 of our country’s veterans, the VA then allowed Franchini to resign, without any punishment. The Department did not alert any state regulators or the national database meant to track problematic doctors. Amazingly, Dr. Franchini is now operating a podiatry in New York City.
Veteran Affairs Secretary David Shulkin has promised to overhaul the agency’s response to medical malpractice in response to the investigation.
A pair of Senators seem intent on making sure those reforms materialize. Sens. Dean Heller and Joe Manchin have proposed a bipartisan bill that would force the Department of Veteran Affairs to report any medical personnel’s disciplinary action to a national database and state medical boards within 30 days. Further, the agency will no longer be able to purge “negative records” from the worker’s personal files. Previously, the agency was only required to report disciplinary action of doctors to a national database – a process that took months or years, if it even happened at all.