Veterans Affairs Hires Surgeons Accused Of Incompetence

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Veterans Affairs Surgeons

Veterans Affairs Surgeons

Benjamin KrauseThe Des Moines Register just released the results of its investigation into questionable Department of Veterans Affairs hiring of two Iowa surgeons accused of incompetence.

The Iowa Board of Medicine leveled disciplinary actions against a former Des Moines-area surgeon accused of incompetence and disruptive behavior this October. The man’s name is Dr. Alan Koslow. Koslow was recently accused of incompetence for improperly operating on high-risk patients and making mistakes during and after the procedures.

Feeling safe next time you go into VA for any kind of surgery? If VA can only hire incompetent surgeons, perhaps this is a sign that VA should give up its advanced procedures and focus only on general care?

After the allegations surfaced, Kolsow shut down his Iowa practice to accept a position with VA in the Dorn Medical Center located in Columbia, SC. Iowa regulators allowed him to keep his license so long as he paid $5,000 and agreed to retraining and supervision.

This questionable hiring is similar to what happened with another area surgeon accused of incompetence in Iowa some years ago.

Dr. Robert Finley III faced a similar fate and agreed to pay a $5,000 fine. Dr. Finley was likewise accused of incompetence in the deaths of at least 6 patients. Despite a pending malpractice lawsuit, Dr. Finley is listed as an employee at a VA hospital in Huntington, WVa.

Iowa is also the home of Dr. David Houlihan formerly the chief of staff at Tomah VAMC.

While in Iowa, Dr. Houlihan also faced charges linked to inappropriate behavior. Like many other Iowa doctors facing investigations, Dr. Houlihan was exported to VA for employment in Wisconsin. Since then, Dr. Houlihan’s medical services were connected to numerous deaths and medical malpractice claims for dangerous opioid prescriptive practices. He was eventually terminated.

RELATED: Wisconsin Opioid Scandal Hits National News

While I appreciate that VA is making attempts to increase the number of doctors it employs, I remain skeptical of the criteria VA uses to hire its doctors and surgeons. Is it too much to ask that VA not hire doctors with histories of questionable conduct? Or will good doctors tend to avoid working at VA all together?

What advice do you have for VA when it comes to hiring?

Source: https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/health/2015/12/21/va-hires-ex-iowa-surgeon-accused-incompetence/77709778/

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41 Comments

  1. MY civilian Gastro Specialist M.D. was doing same work for 20 years in the USAF then went into private practice. He told me that soon after 9/11 he thought he could do more help to Service Members and Veterans since Columbus, OH VAMC had just opened a brand new, long over budget VAMC for are and was calling for “Well-Qualified Applicants”, so he did so and guess what?
    The VHA told him he was…wait for it…”Over-Qualified”!!!! He told me it made absolutely no sense but the VA called into question why he would want to go from Private Practice and potentially take a substantial pay cut and he told them he wanted to use his expertise to give back and help fellow Veterans.
    That was not good enough and they refused to even give him an offer let alone ANY consideration, simply because he was “Over Qualified”. True story.

    So I guess the VA prefers those with limited experience and if you show that you really want to help Vets and continue to give back even if it meant taking a pay cut…well, THAT type of person is not considered a “good match” according to the VA/VHA.

    This is probably why almost all VA Dr.’s barely speak any English, so even communicating effectively with a ‘bad Dr.’ is made even worse because of the sheer number of waived residency requirement Visa’s for these last in class Dr.’s the VA employs.
    So no, I do not think the VA attracts the brightest light bulbs and that goes for the minions of Medical Assistants that the VA utilizes as if they were full medical doctors that just *might* beat you up in your hospital bed and continue to work after that casket is closed…am still tore-up about that thug down at that Louisiana VAMC.

  2. 12/22/2015

    Dear Benjamin Krause,

    This is an Act of Sabotage—Treason.

    Merry Christmas—What is under your Tree?

    Sincerely,

    Don Karg

  3. Clean house from the top down with management. Hire people that have proven leadership abilities and accountability to follow the rules and regulations. Management need to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. If the My VA team that was assembled by Secretary Bob has a backbone and knowledge to turn the VA around, they would understand that when you make mistakes, there are consequences that follow. It doesn’t mean that you are moved to another VA facility to carry on. All veterans want is the Chapter 38 law to be followed and proper health care given to them, so that they can have a quality of life. Change, yes we can. Accountability please! I CARE, do you?

  4. In the early 90’s I stopped by a friend’s house in Ft. Dodge, Iowa. As we sat on his front porch, he asked me, “Hey, brother, do you know what IOWA stands for?” Of course, I said, “NO!”
    He then said,
    “Idiot’s Out Walking Around!”
    We both had a good laugh. Now I truly see what he meant. True story!

    I somehow have a feeling, these are NOT isolated cases. Ben forgot to mention the “pain management” physician who was “arrested” at the Illiana, Illinois VA this past July, I believe, and was “extradited back to Indiana” on charges of killing a minimum of three people. There was questions over 50 actually.
    There’s probably lots more he, and all of us, could put on here. But then this “article”, or “Blog” would be a mile long!

    Here’s something to ponder on. If the people’s of IOWA have such a poor reputation concerning just about everything. Why is it so important in the up coming Presidential Election?

    I’m with you namnibor, my mind is still reeling from the “Thug” who beat a veteran to death. Then VA let him off. Only by the Grace of God, did the State of Louisiana pick it up and charge the puke asswipe!

    I guess VA/VHA’s only want to hire those who can’t make it on the outside. This leads me to my final question.
    “Just what the hell is going to be done with this broken government agency?”

    • “What advice do you have for VA when it comes to hiring?”
      Thorough background checks to include verifying their medical education and expertise.
      That might keep bad doctors out of the system….
      But what about the VA doctors who already have committed malpractice and just get moved to other VAMCs?

      After the Phoenix incident,I contacted the FBI and the Chairman of the H VAC with proof that VA hides their malpractice statistics.
      If a VA doctor causes a FTCA settlement, that settlement must be reported to the National Practitioners Data Bank.
      State Departments of Health and Human Services publish that information for the public, including all disciplined doctors in their state, VA doctors or non VA doctors.

      I never had any response from the H VAC or the FBI since the Phoenix incident but it has become a topic recently in the news, as to what has actually been done by VA to take accountability for it. Still waiting to hear any more info on that….

      Multiple doctors here in NY malpracticed against my husband, to include doctors who tried to implement a cover up of the initial VAMC, when he was moved to another NY VAMC.

      When I settled under FTCA with VA for his wrongful death, I was unaware of the NPDB.

      Since then I became aware that not one of these doctors have been reported to the NPDB.
      I heard one of them was forced into getting more training but have no proof of that.

      Survivors of veterans who filed Section 1151 claims, but not FTCA cases, who have been awarded DIC under 1151 because VA had caused their veteran spouses death, are found in BVA decisions awarding the DIC, yet this is not public knowledge unless one accesses the BVA web site and obviously if no FTCA settlement was made, there is no reporting requirement with the NPDB..

      The VA gave GOA many excuses when GOA reports arose, uncovering this
      defiance of a well established mandated agreement VA has had with the National practitioners Data Bank for decades.

      VA doctors do not need to have malpractice insurance.

      FTCA and Section 1151 claims involve the same evidence:
      Documented medical proof in th veteran’s VA medical records, that malpractice occurred and
      Documented proof that additional disability or death was directly due to the malpractice.

      FTCA has a 2 year Statute of Limits. No limits on filing a 1151 claim.Last year I won 2 1151 claims on my husband’s negligence in addition to 1151 death and direct SC DIC awards , almost 20 years after his death.

      • Berta, the Pulitzer article I mentioned in my comment above mentions the National Practitioner Data Bank, and how the military was also not reporting malpractice to them.

        Not sure what’s changed.

  5. The VA wants people that don’t give two cents about veterans.They want people that they gave something in them.where they can use to their advantage.

    The VA has had many years to hire the right people.uncle Bob.aunt Jean.cousin bubba.cousin dufus.sister betty. Friend Charlie Manson.

    This VA has been infiltrated by low lives and has become a family run business.

    Go to any VA and I bet more than half have other relative’s or old friends holding middle to high management positions or lovers.

    I will say again they have to start over all head manager’s must be releaved of duty.pink slip and all new management must be required to have a degree in the field they are hired for.

    Strict laws where management can not hire anyone related to them. Heck don’t let management higher anyone.let an outside source hire employees.take it out of the management hands.

    Or do away with it all together.they are the problem.

  6. Sounds like Iowa does not know how to take the doctors license away. If they did many doctors would be gone. Poor doctors come to the Midwest to start like these jerks and they was let to keep on. I the state did the right job, they would never had been able to move on. I bet the state gave them a nice letter just to get rid of them.

    • I left in June of this year after 45 years of a continuation of bad to just not a word to fit the practice of so called caring for the Vets,,,, they are placing whoever to make life decisions to us who are disabled,,, If I stay,, I would die as 4 of Vets who helped me get my disability when I want to give up,,,, It took not only the years some idot in congress passed a law who is to recognized with PTSD all the way up to 1990 and then still weren’t going to give out any Ptsd disability,,,, my life was ruined all the way around,,,, My grandpa mom and dad,,, saved me financially and mentally,,,, not them,,, I have received throughout 25 years of really fighting them 3 certified letters of claiming I was not cooperating with them the last one this year,,, and that was the last time,,,, I was going to die if I continue on with the VA,,,, so well they do anything ,,,,nope,,,,, Actually the disabled Vets are becoming the biggest Employers of the United States We are litterly creating 10,000 of jobs in all areas today,,,,,

  7. If the VA had to comply with the hiring rules that all the rest of us do there should be no issues. I am pretty sure that is why the Data Base was setup. How about Dr. Swango in South Dakota? Remember that?

  8. Oh, They`ll fit right in. ………….My God. Picking them off the Street or out of a Bar. (Or a Crack house)
    Luckily for me, My V.A. PCP Dr. Is Ukrainian. He`s the ONLY Doctor for the last 10 yrs that has laid a hand on me. As a Diabetic He even made me take my shoes off to look at my feet. Hell, I felt important! The Whole show. I was actually “Examined”!! I like the guy, He looks you in the eye (Not down his nose) when he talks to you as opposed to talking over his shoulder while tapping on the Keyboard, Like ALL The rest. He spent at least 30 minutes Talking to me, As opposed to the expected Cattle “Run Thru”. I just hope they don`t let him get away. A “Physician”, Rarely seen in this part of the world And even more rare at the V.A. Tho I do like Nurse Practitioner`s They`re not as full of themselves…..Yet.

  9. Well they hire MDs who have multiple documented complaints against them from vets and they put them in a position of being a C&P examiner who dares to write negative reports where she even states that her boss (who is the Director of the Seattle VA C&P clinic) does not have the expertise to make a decision in a case as complex as mine after he and the Chief of Vascular Surgery at the Seattle VA wrote a favorable findings for me. What else is new?

    • John,
      When I was going to the Seattle VAMC, I had a C & P examiner from American Lake who did my last exam. I really liked this guy. He took the time to talk to me, done a thorough exam and even gave me some info on things that had nothing to do with the exam but were helpful. He took his time, listened, told me what things should be for what he was doing and what he was seeing in my exam. I do not know if he is still around and/or if you can try to use him for your next exam but I thought I would give you his name. It is Dr. Robert M. Schore. His exam was the best one I have ever had.
      f8f

  10. The VA is never going to change because we as disabled veterans don’t ever change the way we think of ourselves. We take and put up with stuff like this because we THINK that we should take this stuff and :soldier on” with it. As long as we still think that way the public is just going to go on believing that veterans can take and put up with the bad stuff because we soldier on with it the way we do. As a consequence the public is going to continue to be complacent about it all and never show any interest in it!

    • Hello Dennis, This is why I am fighting for you!!! This behavior and conduct of the way Veterans are treated is deplorable!!! This is a National Disgrace!!! #canyouhearmenow Quancidine for President

    • Maybe just maybe veterans will remember why they joined to fight for freedom to assemble.it’s time to assemble in Washington by the thousands and bring all the broken wheel chairs and demand our rights to be heard and demand our elected officials to act in favor of Veterans rights.

      Now how many years have many of us been ignored and now are children see being ignored.

      I known many veterans don’t like to rock the boat. But if we don’t rock the boat.the captain won’t known it’s sinking and we will all go down with it.

      Don’t let the lives taken from us.go unnoticed and given for nothing. Talk about people turning in their graves.those soldiers who gave their lives should be honored by the veterans.since our elected officials forgot about what freedom really costs.

      How about their 4th of July.independence day our independence, if we don’t.we can’t blame anyone but ourselves.

      • That’s a great sentiment but here is reality. As a former member of VA IS LYING, we discussed nation-wide protest during Veteran’s Day week. Out of over 20,000 members, only a handful of us actually took action.

        Now you want to expect all those veterans who won’t do anything beyond bitching on a keyboard to actually TRAVEL across this country?

        YEAH… Best of luck with that!

      • What kind of action did you take and how did you let people know what.when and how this was going to happen.

        If at first you don’t suceed.try.try again. I don’t known exactly now to get the word out. I’m limited in my thinking due to being shot in the head while in the military.

        But it still has the ability to follow instructions.all I know is if we veterans don’t do something soon all the work Ben.you and people like you will he for not.

        I know it’s a lot to ask of people.But some gave all and it should not be wasted on people who would rather hurt a veteran for a bonus.

        When our country starts letting any government agency become the accuser.judge and jury and executioner and it not be the department of justice this country will fall further into cauius.

        People should not start a fight unless they are willing to finish it. What ever you have done so far.thank you. But keep faith.with out faith.we might as well cover ourselves in dirt.

        Not being rude.just mad at people for hurting veterans.

        Please have a good Christmas!

  11. After reviewing the information available, via the web, on Dr. Alan Koslow it would appear that the VA actually may have hired a good doctor when they hired him.

    Although not certain it appears that the Iowa Board of Medicine actions against Dr. Koslow are more likely motived by his failed bid for election to the Iowa State Legislature, his advocacy for Medical Marijuana in the state of Iowa and his providing care not normally provided to high risk patients.

    • Although it appears to me that the VA’s hiring of Dr. Koslow maybe a good thing it does not change my opinion about the VA Health Care System.

      Anyone who is connected to any VA Health Care provider is putting themselves and their loved one’s health and lives at Serious risk. VA Health Care is truly not an option for anyone no matter what your circumstances.

      • Honestly, anyone anywhere who puts their blind trust in any medical system puts themselves and/or their loved ones at risk. Its not just the VA. The fact is, the VA has just as many good outcomes, or more, than bad. Its a crap shoot, but you don’t have to put it down to luck.
        Get involved, educate yourself. Learn about your conditions and how they should be handled, and talk to your PCP and the specialists that you are sent to. If you don’t like them, you have the right to ask for a different doctor, and the VA must comply.
        The VA has save so many lives, you cant discount them all because of a few bad apples. You just gotta advocate for good rules and laws. Its all anyone can do, be involved, don’t shut yourself in your closet and hope it gets better all by its self, because it wont. Make your voice heard, use what you have to make a positive change.

  12. Doing a search on Koslow suggests he’s a left wing, climate change, anti-religion, pro ObamaCare quack. The Des Moines Register has a story from October 2015 about him being accused of incompetence, but his FindLaw case showing he was sued after his patient died on the operating table is from 2008, so obviously he has had problems for some time. His Facebook page is interesting, and shows a booth set up somewhere offering a free vein screening next to a booth touting a masking tape applicator. Other pictures suggest he’s done some overseas charity work, or at least took lots of pictures of various injuries and at least one male stripper looking guy with a machete.
    His move must have been fast since his FB page shows he still lives in Iowa.
    His lawsuit from 2008 can be found on FindLaw and describes what he was doing when his patient died.
    What do I think? I think the VA should actually prove their concern for veterans rather than just claiming publicly they have concern, then hiring incompetent quacks. They should be required to follow the same laws, regulations and requirements as any doctor or provider working in any state.
    This shuffling of doctors around to various VA’s in order to avoid malpractice suits, or hiring doctors from the civilian world to do the same again reminds me of what the DOD did years ago. I finally found an article on that. It won a Pulitzer for the Dayton Daily News and can be found at www-dot-pulitzer-dot-org/works/1998-National-Reporting.
    It really is an eye-opening series of 8 articles, and only a fool would not believe the same thing happens in the VA. I recall reading it when it was first printed, and was just shocked at how the military would accept these hacks, then knowingly ship them around the country if they failed to pass a state licensing test.
    This story resulted in at least one Congressional hearing, and after some Undersecretary of Defense appeared and joined with Congress with a loud harrumph, not much more was reported. The story mentions Oklahoma as one state that issued “special licenses”. If a doctor could not pass a state licensing exam, they could get this special license and work on military patients, but not civilians. It also mentions VA doctors receiving these special licenses. One doctor failed the state test 14 times. From what I can tell, all three doctors reported on in that story still practice medicine in some manner, but not in the VA that I could find.
    From what I can also tell, VA doctors are required to be licensed in SOME state…it’s just states often refuse to do anything about their shoddy practices since the VA claims they are exempt…and the states let them do it.

    • Great post on the Pulitzer articles from the Dayton Daily News and it was well worth the time finding and reading.

      Regarding the FindLaw on Smith v. Koslow, In 2008 the Iowa Supreme Court concluded the trail court had not erred and vacated an appeals court decision. The trial court decision found that Dr. Koslow was not negligent in Smith’s care.

      More on the recent actions against Dr. Koslow by the Iowa Board of Medicine in October 2015 and settled December 11th, 2015 can be found at:

      “https://medicalboard.iowa.gov/Legal/Koslow,AlanR.,M.D.-02-2006-563.pdf”

      Regarding Dr. Koslow stance on Medical Marijuana here is a link to his testimony before the Iowa Pharmacy Board supporting the use of Medical Marijuana.

      “https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=udFgSXtGv9w”

      Also I would like to point out the State of Iowa has some of the toughest penalties in the nation for possession of marijuana. Currently an individual caught with one gram of marijuana first offence is facing a possible 6 month incarceration and a $1000 fine.

  13. To make a very long story short I developed a soft tissue sarcoma in my leg, one of those presumptive Agent Orange cancers and was assigned a V.A. surgeon who by the way was the first doctor is the system who suspected it may be cancer and not a fatty tumor or Hematoma,so the first question he asked me is if I served in Vietnam ( hard to believe V.A. doctors have to ask ). I did so he scheduled a biopsy 2 days later and the results came back soft tissue sarcoma.He scheduled surgery for 2 weeks later,removed the tumor and one of my quad muscles and it sounds a lot worse that it actually was.I was lucky it was a low grade non aggressive cancer and I’m doing fine getting Cat Scans every 6 months with follow ups with a oncologist.
    When I got referred from my primary to a surgeon the first thing I did was google his name and found out that although he was a V.A. doctor be was doing some part time work at a local hospital.Luckily I knew a nurse who worked there and asked her about him and got a thumbs up.I too had heard 2nd hand horror stories about surgery at V.A. hospitals but I’m not one of them.

  14. All prospect for hiring in the VA should go through a mental health evaluation to determined if they are SADISTIC MORONS. At Va they will see lots of pain and I think some like that pain in VETERANS. ALSO why should I be schedule to see a VA doctor that has refused me service sixteen times. (Thomas J. Meyers is the one) and had to see him in late December and got nothing (My follow up was CONGESTIVE HEART FAILURE BY University of Colorado Hospital who under emergency place 3 stent in my hearth.(save my life) THANKS I now have a blood clot in my heart under strict treatment for it at VA .Some of this should have been done during the last 15 years. Now not much future.If clot move to brain .

    • Quancidine, I posted this problem for our webmaster to see at hadit.com
      There should be a Contact area there to reach her at our home page .
      This is a very secure site, over a million hits a year and 15 thousand registered members.

      If you Google’ FTCA and or Section 1151 and Berta hadit.com ‘the site info should pop up but
      it would be good if you can join.

  15. My husband had gallbladder surgery at a VA hospital in Syracuse , NY. The head surgeon was in the operating room with many attending surgeons. The surgeon doing the surgery forgot to pinch half of the clip down that would have closed the end of the gallbladder up. So by the morning he was running a fever, in horrible pain and his white blood cell count was over 80,000. He was septic. Back to surgery to get completely opened up and washed out stomache cavity and bowls, liver and spleen area. He then went to credical care for days…. He now has a football size hernia and chronic attacks…. The next surgery was a hip replacement. They put a hip in him that was not support to be used in people with auto immune disease. He has many auto immune diseases. Know the tissue around the hip has died…. So it will be another surgery. We just read his file and they said that he had a shunt put in his left vein in his kneck… This never happened…. We didn’t know about sueing we just where crushed. Now the time has passed. I think it sucks that there is a 2 year limit

    • Years ago the Syracuse VAMC killed my husband, that is ,they covered up malpractice from another VAMC here in NY and continued to fail to properly treat him. He died 2 years later with a Section 1151 pending that I continued and I FTCAed them as soon as I got his VA medical records and deciphered them.

      Veterans (and their survivors) have 2 options, FTCA and also Section 1151 claims.
      No Time Limit on 1151 claims.
      I succeeded on both after he died. Everything I know about these claims is at http://www.hadit.com.

      We have a full FTCA/1151 forum at http://www.hadit.com advising veterans or their survivors how to be properly compensated for negligence/malpractice.

      These claims rest on 2 criteria:
      1.Was the diagnosis and treatment etc comparable to the “Standard and Usual” medical community?

      ( meaning -would real ,non VA doctors, have taken the same steps regarding his medical care) and

      Does he now have, solely due to proven VA negligence, any additional disabilities?

      There is a 2 year SOL on FTCA issues but that SOL is best determined by a FTCA lawyer.

      • I was trying to register on HADIT.com and the “security” link is broken. Quancidine Hinson-Gribble

      • Who. Was your lawyer ! For many veterans with PTSD. TBI. Ect are just unable to understand the regulations. !

        What type of lawyer is needed.?

        Where do you find them. !

Comments are closed.