A November 2015 KARE 11 investigation documented VA medical centers in Minnesota and Wisconsin providing false and misleading information about the qualifications of some of their doctors.
Records show some doctors never had – or had lost – medical certifications the VA claimed they had on their “Our Doctors” website.
KARE 11's investigation found doctors listed as board-certified specialists who had either never been certified, their certifications had expired, or they were not keeping up with the ongoing learning requirements.
Our partner TEGNA television stations in Denver and Buffalo documented similar false board certification claims at VA medical facilities in Colorado and New York.
Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Bob McDonald toured VA facilitaties in Minnesota in March. KARE 11 Investigative reporter A.J. Lagoe questioned McDonald about the false doctor certifications.
Lagoe asked, “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 its honestly advertising the qualifications of its doctors?”
McDonald responded, “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.”
This was the first time a VA official addressed the accuracy problems on the website despite Congress repeatedly demanding answers.
KARE 11 has obtained a letter written in February to Wisconsin Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI) from the VA’s Office of Inspector General. It details how Duffy and nine other members of Congress cosigned a letter requesting the allegations of inaccurate information be reviewed.
The letter states a “two part review” has been launched. It focuses on “the management and data integrity issues that arise from the placement of inaccurate information on a website.” And on “any potential negative impact to patients.”
KARE 11 has confirmed that review is expected to be completed this spring.
Secretary McDonald also promised to make changes but did not elaborate on just what they will be. “Very soon you’ll be hearing about an announcement we’re going to make.” He added “We’re bringing in someone to help us with communications so we can do a better job.”