The Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks met face to face with hundred of patients who are looking for answers after receiving a notice their pathologist was impaired while on the job.
The VA first found the pathologist to be impaired in March 2016.
More than a year later, the doctor was found impaired again in October 2017.
That’s when the VA fired the employee leaving almost 20,000 patients and 30,000 cases to be reviewed.
Since then, the hospital says seven patients have been found to be misdiagnosed and one veteran may have died.
The VA hospital says the process will be a six month long look-back.
The director confirms 3,000 of the 33,000 cases have been reviewed so far.
That’s about 9 percent of the workload.
One of the cases that has not been reviewed yet involves a woman who lost her mother to cancer last December.
A room packed with worry, confusion, and anger.
Crystal George is in the audience standing up for one of the 20,000 potentially misdiagnosed VA patients.
Her mother died in December from lung cancer.
George worries her mom’s disease could have been caught earlier if it wasn’t for the impaired pathologist.
“When they found her cancer it was Stage 4 terminal and cancer is a slow growing cancer,” George said. “So how does a slow growing cancer show up in 2 months?”
The interim director of the Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks – Kelvin Parks – says a position has been added so this incident doesn’t happen again.
“We now have inserted a quality officer,” Kelvin Parks said. “That when a doctor review goes out and comes back, it will go to this officer. This officer is non biased. They do not work for that specific laboratory anymore. They work in a “quality” department.”
The hospital confirmed Monday the impaired pathologist went to a treatment facility after his first offense in 2016.
He was allowed to continue practice once he completed the program before he was caught again.
But the hospital hopes this second chance attempt doesn’t come back to haunt the hospital.
George says these changes can’t bring back her mother.
She still questions… was her mother’s death preventable?
“I put my life on hold for my sick mother who I felt could’ve gotten better care,” George said. “I don’t feel like my mothers care was to the best of their abilities. That’s the bottom line.”
George and her family met with the hospital to file form to possibly receive compensation from the VA for death or disability.
There will be town hall meetings just like today once a month until the investigation is complete.