The VA’s health care branch is not consistently following its policies regarding licensing of health-care personnel, GAO has found.
Auditors reviewed the Veterans Health Administration’s use of the National Practitioner Data Bank, one of the sources information on professional qualifications. That information includes whether providers have been disciplined by a state licensing board or a care facility.
“VHA facilities did not consistently adhere to policies regarding providers with adverse actions. Among other issues, GAO found that some facility officials were not aware of VHA employment policies. Specifically, GAO found that officials in at least five facilities who were involved in verifying providers’ credentials and hiring them were unaware of the policy regarding hiring a provider whose license has been revoked or surrendered for professional misconduct or incompetence, or for providing substandard care,” the report (GAO-19-6) said.
One issue identified was a lack of training of staff responsible for credentialing, which “may result in facility officials who are involved in credentialing and hiring not understanding the policies and hiring potentially ineligible providers.” Also, the VHA does not routinely review whether providers have an adverse action reported in the database and therefore “may be missing an opportunity to better ensure that facilities do not hire or retain providers who do not meet the licensure requirements.”
GAO said the agency agreed with its recommendations to conduct such training and reviews.