cd Tales of disturbing VA mishaps ignites outrage and action

A view of the Capitol dome is seen on Capitol Hill March 23, 2017 in Washington,DC. (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

By Matt Saintsing

The wrong screw used in the bone of one patient, an incorrectly severed tendon in another and two surgeries so botched, someone opted for amputation instead.

These are just some of the horrifying mistakes involving Thomas Franchini— a podiatrist at a VA hospital in Togus, Maine— according to a stomach-churning investigation by USA today.

In response, a group of Republican lawmakers introduced The Ethical Patient Care for Veterans Act of 2017 Thursday, a bill that would require the VA to report substandard health care to state licensing boards.

“The findings of the USA Today investigation are intolerable,” said Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.), chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs committee, in a statement.

“As a physician, I find this deeply troubling.”

Currently, it takes the VA at least one hundred days to decide whether to report inadequate health care to state boards, if at all.

“Our veterans deserve the best care imaginable, but as we’ve seen, far too often that’s not the case,” added Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) “This bill will help reform the culture at the VA by holding bad actors accountable and keeping them from continuing these mistakes at the VA or elsewhere.”

Franchini, the sole podiatrist named in the USA Today article, now practices in New York City. None of his 88 egregious mistakes were ever reported to his patients (or victims), or to the state regulators who licensed him.

He was in good standing with the state of Maine when he was allowed to quietly resign and take his practice elsewhere.

“These most recent reports are nothing short of appalling,” said Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R-Maine). ““Our Maine Veterans depend on their services at Togus and other VA facilities across our State for critical care, and it is absolutely unacceptable for them to ever be subjected to this kind of medical malpractice.”

This damning report is the latest for the VA, which has a history of concealing mistakes. Now federal lawmakers are seeking to hold VA health care providers accountable, on all levels.

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