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Durbin, Obama target VA care-Bill aims to tighten hiring practices, improve conditions

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babylonsister Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 03:18 PM
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Durbin, Obama target VA care-Bill aims to tighten hiring practices, improve conditions
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-vadoc_17no...

Durbin, Obama target VA care
Bill aims to tighten hiring practices, improve conditions

By Deborah Shelton | Tribune staff reporter
November 17, 2007


U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin and Barack Obama introduced legislation Friday that they said would improve hiring practices and quality control measures at Department of Veterans Affairs medical facilities.

The legislation comes in response to the situation at the Marion VA Medical Center, where inpatient surgeries were suspended in August because of an unusual spike in post-surgical deaths. The two Democrats said the circumstances at the Downstate hospital may point to greater problems within the VA medical system.

The bill would tighten the hiring process for doctors, introduce a quality assurance mechanism and offer incentives to attract highly qualified medical professionals to the VA, according to a statement from the senators released Friday.

Physicians applying at VA hospitals would be required to disclose past malpractice payments and disciplinary actions, as well as ongoing investigations or outstanding allegations. Doctors also would be required to notify any state board where they have held a license to disclose the information to the VA.

The senators said such measures likely would have prevented administrators at the Marion VA hospital from hiring Dr. Jose Veizaga-Mendez, who was allowed to perform surgeries there even though he had agreed not to practice medicine in Massachusetts after being accused of gross incompetence. He resigned from Marion in August.

The legislation calls for a designated doctor who would monitor the quality of surgeons on staff and report directly to hospital administrators and to a regional quality assurance official.

It also encourages VA facilities to establish close affiliations with nearby medical schools, proposes to help relieve the medical school debt of young doctors willing to practice with the VA, and offers incentives to lure senior doctors into VA work, even on a part-time basis. Physicians' salaries with the VA typically are lower than those at private hospitals or in private practice.

Nine patients died in surgery from October 2006 to March 2007 at the facility in Marion, 15 miles east of Carbondale.
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NNN0LHI Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 03:24 PM
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1. These guys have been on this issue since day one
They don't get much news coverage for their work outside Illinois normally but this is one issue my Senators have been doing a great job on.

Don
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babylonsister Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 03:33 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. Gosh, are YOU ever lucky to have them. And yes, these men and
Senator Murray have been right up there in trying to help. I applaud them all.
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