VA Official Who Allowed Unsterile Instruments Lands 'High-Ranking' Job
The former head of Washington D.C.'s Veterans Affairs (VA) hospital, who was removed following a scathing report about the hospital's lack of sterile surgical equipment, has been given a high-ranking post at the VA's D.C. headquarters, according to NBC4.
"REMOVED as head of Wash DC VA Med Center after scathing audit, Brian Hawkins has landed high-ranking job at VA headquarters, per NBC4ITeam," tweeted investigative reporter Scott MacFarlane.
Hawkins was demoted in April following an inspector general report which found that patients at the D.C. VA were at risk of infection due to a lack of sanitary equipment.
In one terrifying incident, a patient was prepared for vascular surgery and already put under anesthesia when the surgeon discovered he lacked the necessary equipment for the operation! The inspector general report also found discolored surgical instruments unsuitable for use and reported that medical staff had to borrow supplies, including bloodlines and surgical pieces, from nearby centers.
The inspector general report listed 18 different sterile storage containers that were contaminated by dirty conditions. Investigators found expired medical equipment on site, and some of this expired equipment was even used in a June 2016 patient procedure.
In April, when the report came out, the VA announced it would take disciplinary action if appropriate. "VA's top priority is to ensure that no patient has been harmed. If appropriate, additional disciplinary actions will be taken in accordance with the law," the VA said in a statement. Here is a photo of Hawkins' resignation speech.
Hawkins had worked as director of the D.C. VA hospital since 2011.
"It is nearly impossible to remove bad VA employees who engage in negligence or misconduct, even to the extent that Mr. Hawkins did," declared Concerned Veterans for America (CVA) Policy Director Dan Caldwell in a statement. "A government employee who puts veterans in imminent danger obviously should not remain on the VA payroll, but Secretary Shulkin's hands are tied."
Last month, a federal court struck down the firing of Phoenix VA Director Sharon Helman — a convicted felon — as unconstitutional. Helman was at the center of the original VA scandal in Phoenix, Ariz. In April, Secretary Shulkin found himself unable to immediately fire an employee who was caught watching porn on the job.
"Next Week, Congress will have the opportunity to act on a bill — the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017 — that would finally give the VA Secretary the authority he needs to hold bad employees accountable," Caldwell declared. "We urge Congress to move quickly to pass this bill, as veteran lives clearly hang in the balance."
News of his Hawkins' "high-ranking" position came on the same day that it was announced a veteran had been found dead in a car in the medical center's parking lot. The veteran's family repeatedly called the VA searching for him. He was reported missing on May 15 and not found until May 17.