Casey, Specter Introduce Bill in Response to Medical Misconduct at Philly VA

Would require additional oversight, training and contractor responsibility

WASHINGTON, DC-U.S. Senators Bob Casey and Arlen Specter today introduced S. 3330, the Veteran’s Health and Radiation Safety Act to help prevent medical misconduct similar to a troubling incident at the Philadelphia VA Hospital and at veterans’ hospitals across the country.  This legislation would implement recommendations made in an Inspector General report issued this week on the Philadelphia VA Brachytherapy program.

“I am deeply troubled that veterans receiving treatment for cancer were physically harmed as a result of flawed patient care and that serious concerns about this problem were mismanaged by VA staff,” Senator Casey said.  “We must take action to ensure that medical mistakes like this are not repeated in the future.”

Senator Specter said, “I am pleased to cosponsor this legislation with Senator Casey and Congressman Adler to ensure that our veterans, who have sacrificed much for our freedoms, receive the best medical treatment available.”

In May 2008, the Philadelphia VA Medical Center discovered that prostate cancer patients received substandard care while participating in the Brachytherapy Program.  Earlier this week, the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General released its report on this issue.  The report found several lapses in oversight including a full year where the computer used for post treatment quality assessments was not connected to the hospital’s main network which resulted in seventeen men receiving no assessment of their procedures.  Quality management practices were also found to be deficient.

The Veteran’s Health and Radiation Safety Act would require:

•    All low-volume programs that are currently operating in the VA be evaluated and submitted to Congress annually to ensure that they are meeting their safety standards.

•    Every VA employee and independent contractor working in a VA medical facility to be trained in what constitutes a "medical event." If a VA hospital fails to administer such training, the Secretary may suspend their use of radioactive materials on veterans.

•    A contract for medical services cannot be renewed until evaluations on that independent contractor's performance have been conducted.

Congressman John Adler (D-NJ) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives.