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Former VA Pathologist Charged in Death of Three Veterans

The indictment of a veterans’ hospital doctor on three involuntary manslaughter charges sends a shocking message about oversight within his facility and triggers disturbing questions about other patients treated by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Dr. Robert Levy, formerly a pathologist at Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks in Fayetteville, Arkansas, has been dismissed from his position and indicted. In an August 2019 press conference, Duane Kees, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, said that in all three fatal cases, Levy misidentified the type of cancer present or missed the cancer completely. More than 3,000 other diagnosis errors over a period of 14 years have been traced to him.

Though this might be an extreme situation, several longstanding problems cast serious doubt on whether VA physicians are being supervised properly. Problems revealed in the Levy indictment include:

  • Falsifying medical records — In addition to the manslaughter counts, Levy was charged with fraud and falsifying records, specifically by changing documents to hide evidence of his serious diagnosis errors.
  • Intoxication on the job — After showing up to work intoxicated in 2016, Levy entered a substance abuse program. After his return to work, he purchased a chemical intoxicant that wouldn’t show up on his drug and alcohol tests.
  • Bonuses based on incorrect reports — On top of his yearly salary of $225,000, Levy was eligible for a bonus if his rate of clinical errors was lower than 5 percent. He received these payments in both 2016 and 2017, but an independent review conducted after his firing showed an error rate of nearly 10 percent in 34,000 cases.

While men and women who have served in our military deserve the best healthcare, cases of medical malpractice persist at VA facilities throughout the country. Unfortunately, by the time a case such as Levy’s comes to light, it could be too late for some victimized patients.

If you suspect that you or a family member was harmed by substandard VA medical treatment, the accomplished lawyers at Marcari, Russotto, Spencer & Balaban can help. We represent veterans in cases stemming from malpractice, service-related illnesses and other dangers to health. To schedule a free consultation regarding your options, please call 866-866-VETS or contact us online. We have office locations throughout the Carolinas and Virginia.

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