A CLOSER LOOK: Chronology of Standards Board discipline of Dr. Robert Levy

A Closer Look

FILE – In this Aug. 17, 2019 file photo provided by the Washington County, Arkansas Sheriff’s Department, Robert Levy is pictured in a booking photo. Levy, a pathologist fired from an Arkansas veterans hospital after officials said he had been impaired while on duty has been charged with involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of three patients who authorities say he misdiagnosed and whose records he later altered to conceal his mistakes. (Washington County Sheriff’s Department via AP, File)

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA) — Dr. Robert Levy, who now stands charged with three counts of manslaughter, was first suspended by the Fayetteville VA in 2016.

In addition to the three counts of manslaughter, Levy is accused of several other crimes.

Levy, the former chief of Pathology and Laboratory Service at the VA, was frequently intoxicated while on duty, according to authorities.

A drug and alcohol test performed on Levy while he was on duty at the VA found that he had a blood alcohol content of .396.

The following is a chronology of events that led to Levy’s clinical privileges being revoked by the Veterans Health Care Systems of the Ozarks’ Professional Standards Board.

The Standards Board suspended Levy’s clinical privileges in March 2016 because he reported to work with a high blood alcohol level.

Levy entered and successfully completed an inpatient substance abuse program and a six-week professional recovery tract, according to Medical Board of California documents that were reviewed before Levy’s medical practice license was revoked in California.

“Dr. Levy returned to work doing well and additional monitoring has continued including work place monitoring, attendance at Alcohol Anonymous meetings and daily online contact with the Mississippi State Medical Board,” medical board documents state.

Levy’s clinical privileges were restored to full and active status on Oct. 12, 2016, board documents state.

Levy served as chair of the monthly Tumor Board meeting on Oct. 13, 2017, but board members were concerned about Levy’s cognitive state. Their concern was reported to Dr. Mark Worley, the chief of staff. Worley spoke with Levy, who denied being ill or impaired. Levy submitted to laboratory testing.

“Employee health found him unfit to continue work. He was sent home,” board documents state.

Levy’s coworkers continued noticing that Levy seemed impaired.

“Dr. Levy was having trouble ambulating. Dr. Levy was taken to Employee Health for evaluation including a mini mental status of 21. Transportation was arranged at that time to take Dr. Levy home,” board documents state.

Fayetteville police were called to Levy’s home where they found him possibly intoxicated. He was taken to Washington Regional Medical Center for evaluation.

The Standards Board heard from witnesses on Oct. 30, 2017, about Levy’s “lack of recognition of impairment and performing clinical activities” while impaired. Standards Board members recommended revocation of Levy’s clinical privileges.

The Executive Committee of the Medical Executive Council (ECMEC) on Nov. 6, 2017, upheld the Standards Board’s recommendation for revocation. The Executive Committee sent the recommendation to the Medical Center Director for approval.

Results from an Ongoing Professional Practice Evaluation (OPPE) showed no evidence of Levy causing patients harm, therefore not triggering a Focused Professional Practice Evaluation (FPPE). However, there were concerns over the validity of the OPPE data.

“So an additional 10 percent of random reviews were sent to Cynthia Lynch, M.D., acting chief, VISN P&LMS. Results of her review showed lack of additional stains or additional procedures that should have been performed to make the needed diagnosis,” board documents state.

Lynch’s review results were sent to Dr. John W. Theus, chief of staff at Central Arkansas VA Healthcare System.

“Results of (Theus’) review showed 12 cases with minor and major discrepancies that didn’t have an addendum to ensure follow-up by the referring physician,” board documents state.

Theus noted that in 16 cases Levy failed to follow clinical policies and procedures to include pathology reviews, processing surgical reports and the process regarding a modified versus changed progress note.

The ECMEC met on Jan. 11, 2018, and completed an additional review of Levy. The committee unanimously agreed to sustain the recommendation of permanent revocation of Levy’s clinical privileges.

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