The Department of Veterans Affairs is changing the way it posts information about the qualifications of doctors who work at VA hospitals nationwide in the wake of a KARE 11 investigation.
The VA announced the change after a report by its Office of Inspector General confirmed problems KARE 11 first disclosed in 2015.
KARE 11’s investigation revealed that the VA had posted false and misleading information about the qualifications of some of its doctors on the department’s “Our Doctors” website.
Records showed some doctors never had – or had lost – medical certifications and state licenses the VA claimed they had.
Doctors were listed as board-certified specialists even though some had never been certified and others had their certifications expire after failing to keeping up with the ongoing learning requirements.
KARE 11 documented examples of misleading information involving doctors who worked at VA hospitals in Minneapolis and St. Cloud, Minnesota, and in Tomah, Wisconsin.
Our partner TEGNA television stations in Denver and Buffalo documented similar false board certification claims at VA medical facilities in Colorado and New York.
In April, 2016, KARE 11 investigative reporter A.J. Lagoe questioned Robert McDonald, then Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, about the false doctor certifications.
Lagoe: “We found across the VA system this information can be inflated, sometimes it’s patently false. Listing board certifications for doctors they’ve never earned, licenses they don’t hold. What is the VA doing to ensure it's honestly advertising the qualifications of its doctors?”
McDonald: “The most important thing, I think A.J., is to make sure the doctors we have, have their credentials. So we make sure those credentials are correct. I have also looked at that website and I agree we need to do a better job keeping that website updated. These credentials move around all the time, but we’ve got to improve that.”
After KARE 11’s report, members of Congress requested the VA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) to launch an official investigation.
Wisconsin Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI) said at the time, “The investigation from KARE 11 now allows us to come on backside of that investigation and start to demand information from these VA systems so we actually know how systemic the problem is.”
Although the newly released OIG report confirmed KARE 11’s findings of inaccurate information on the “Our Doctors“ website, it concluded that all of the doctors involved were qualified to do their assigned jobs.
The report cited the VA for not requiring adequate validation of medical credentials before posting information to the website, and having “no oversight process” at facility, network, or national levels.
In response, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced it is doing away with the “Our Doctors” website because of vulnerabilities in the current system, changing to a new website, and launching a quality assurance program.