Oversight failures, a fearful workplace culture and lax quality standards for years at a Veterans Affairs hospital in Arkansas allowed a pathologist who was routinely drunk on the job to misdiagnose thousands of veterans — sometimes with dire or deadly consequences, a new investigation has found.
Hospital leaders “failed to promote a culture of accountability” that would have led more of the doctor’s colleagues to come forward with accounts that his behavior was putting patients at risk, according to the report released Wednesday by VA’s Office of Inspector General. But the staff members at the Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks in Fayetteville feared that reporting their concerns would lead to retaliation from their bosses.
“Any one of these breakdowns could cause harmful results,” Inspector General Michael Missal’s staff wrote in an 86-page report about the failures to stop the pathologist, Robert Morris Levy. “Together and over an extended period of time, the consequences were devastating, tragic, and deadly.”
Levy was fired in 2018 after 13 years at the VA. He was sentenced early this year to 20 years in prison for involuntary manslaughter and mail fraud. He admitted misdiagnosis of a patient who died and also to covering up his substance abuse.