Veterans Administration:

Identifying Physicians With License Sanctions--An Incomplete Process

HRD-88-47: Published: May 13, 1988. Publicly Released: May 13, 1988.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO examined the Veterans Administration's (VA) Office of Inspector General's (OIG) methodology for identifying VA physicians with license sanctions.

GAO found that the OIG study: (1) ran a computer match of physicians listed in the VA database with the Federation of State Medical Boards database to identify physicians with license sanctions; (2) identified 93 VA physicians with license sanctions; (3) did not include contract physicians or physicians providing services without VA compensation; and (4) did not include all VA medical center physicians and residents. GAO also found that the VA Department of Medicine and Surgery's (DMS) plans to use the OIG methodology for biennial reviews of physicians' licenses do not include review of: (1) residents, since they are under continual supervision; (2) contract physicians, since that is the contractors' responsibility; and (3) fee-basis physicians, since such review would make them VA employees and create an additional work load for VA. GAO believes that Congress may wish to consider requiring VA to include all of its paid or authorized physicians in its biennial reviews.

Status Legend:

More Info
  • Review Pending-GAO has not yet assessed implementation status.
  • Open-Actions to satisfy the intent of the recommendation have not been taken or are being planned, or actions that partially satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-implemented-Actions that satisfy the intent of the recommendation have been taken.
  • Closed-not implemented-While the intent of the recommendation has not been satisfied, time or circumstances have rendered the recommendation invalid.
    • Review Pending
    • Open
    • Closed - implemented
    • Closed - not implemented

    Recommendations for Executive Action

    Recommendation: The Administrator of Veterans Affairs should require the Chief Medical Director to establish a complete physician database to be used to check the licenses of physicians authorized or paid by VA to treat veterans. This database should include all physicians authorized or paid by VA to treat veterans.

    Agency Affected: Veterans Administration

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: VA and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) entered into a memo of understanding (MOU) in November 1990. Final regulations and VA circulars were published on October 28, 1991.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of Veterans Affairs should require the Chief Medical Director to establish a complete physician database to be used to check the licenses of physicians authorized or paid by VA to treat veterans. The database should be verified with information at individual medical centers.

    Agency Affected: Veterans Administration

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: VA and HHS entered into a MOU in November 1990. Final regulations and VA circulars were published on October 28, 1991.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of Veterans Affairs should require the Chief Medical Director to determine whether there are alternatives that would permit VA to keep the results of the DMS biennial reviews while complying with Office of Management and Budget computer-matching guidelines.

    Agency Affected: Veterans Administration

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: VA and HHS entered into a MOU in November 1990. Final regulations and VA circulars were published on October 28, 1991.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of Veterans Affairs should require the Chief Medical Director to include physicians' years of graduation in the database to expedite verification of the names matched with the federation's names.

    Agency Affected: Veterans Administration

    Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Physicians' graduation year is element in the Personnel and Accounting Integrated Data System and will be used in conducting the match with the Federation.

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