Dec 28, 2017 Issues: Veterans, Armed Services

WASHINGTON, DC – This week Congressman Walter B. Jones (NC-3) and 30 congressional colleagues called on the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to quickly address recent reports that the VA knowingly hired doctors who lost their licenses for malpractice and providing poor care to patients.  A follow-up report found that the VA has allowed hospitals to hire health care providers with revoked licenses for at least 15 years.  In doing so, the VA is in violation of a federal law passed in 1999 which prohibited the agency from employing any health care worker whose license has been revoked by any state.  In one case, the VA hired a neurosurgeon who racked up over a dozen malpractice claims in two states for surgical mistakes that left patients maimed, paralyzed or dead.  

“We need to ensure our nation’s veterans receive the highest quality care from the best providers possible,” said Congressman Jones.  “For the VA to be illegally hiring doctors who failed to meet that standard in their previous jobs is very troubling and absolutely unacceptable.”

In a letter sent to VA Secretary David Shulkin earlier this week, Congressman Jones and his colleagues urged the agency to take quick action to address the issue.  The Secretary responded promptly. In an interview published yesterday, Secretary Shulkin said he had ordered a re-writing of the hiring guidelines and launched a nationwide review to identify and remove any health care workers with revoked licenses.    

“I would like to thank Secretary Shulkin and the administration for jumping on this issue,” said Congressman Jones.  “Veterans deserve the best care we can give them.  When problems like this are identified, it is very important that they be rectified immediately so that no veteran’s health is jeopardized.”   

The following members of Congress joined Congressman Jones in signing the letter to Secretary Shulkin:  John Rutherford, Jack Bergman, Mark Meadows, Barbara Comstock, Madeleine Bordallo, Ralph Norman, Ann McLane Kuster, Doug Collins, Tom O’Halleran, Beto O’Rourke, Mimi Walters, Mike Bost, Mike Johnson, Darrell Issa, Thomas Rooney, Jim Banks, Doug LaMalfa, Kevin Yoder, David Valadao, Roger Marshall, Ted Yoho, Andy Biggs, Neal Dunn, Steve King, Daniel Donovan, Jr., Charlie Crist, Peter DeFazio, Steve Pearce and Ron DeSantis. The text of the letter is below:

December 18, 2017

The Honorable David J. Shulkin, M.D.


U. S. Department of Veterans Affairs

810 Vermont Avenue, NW

Washington, D.C. 20420

Dear Secretary Shulkin:

We write today to express extreme concern regarding recent reports that the VA has hired medical providers, including surgeons, who have histories of malpractice and disciplinary actions taken against them.  These reports include the hiring of providers who have previously lost their medical licenses, providers who have a history of sexual misconduct, and providers who have a record of disciplinary actions that would preclude them from employment in the private sector.

We recognize and share your commitment to ensuring that our nation’s veterans receive the highest quality care from the best providers possible.  Therefore, recent reports of these bad hires, along with the recent Government Accountability Office report that found VA failed to conduct appropriate reviews and report doctors who received adverse privileging actions to state medical boards and other databases, are of great concern to us as we conduct oversight of the Department.

The hiring of doctors who have had their medical licenses revoked in any state is already prohibited, and clinical hires must be cleared through professional standards boards.  However, it appears the laws and regulations establishing that prohibition are not being followed by VA medical facilities.

As you are aware, the President signed the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act into law in June.  This was a result of Congress’s and the American people’s outrage at the lack of appropriate disciplinary action within the VA.  We are encouraged by your exercise of these new authorities; however, these recent reports lead us to question if further action by Congress may be necessary.

In order to help us learn more about the VA’s response to these reports, we request the following:

·         Actions taken to terminate the employment of those listed in recent reports who should not have been hired by the VA;

·         Actions taken to discipline the professional standards boards who cleared the hiring of those providers with histories of misconduct and malpractice;

·         Any Department-wide guidance on how medical facilities review and conduct their hiring processes to prevent current hiring laws from being broken;

·         Actions taken to identify other current providers within the VA who have had disciplinary actions taken against them.

We thank you in advance for your prompt response to our concerns. We appreciate your dedication to our veterans and look forward to working together to ensure they receive the highest quality medical care available.  Please contact us with any further questions.


For additional information, please contact Allison Tucker in Congressman Walter Jones' office at or (202) 225-3415.