Ex-VA doctor fired for drinking charged in deaths of misdiagnosed patients

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A doctor who was fired from an Arkansas veteran’s hospital for being drunk on the job is now charged with killing three patients he misdiagnosed.

In one case, Dr. Robert Morris Levy allegedly declared a patient cancer-free after a biopsy, only to have the man die of prostate cancer, according to court papers.

In at least two cases federal prosecutors said he forged signatures and documents to cover up fatal blunders – even as he dodged random drug and alcohol tests by drinking a concoction of methyl and butanol that wouldn’t show up on the tests.

Levy, former chief pathologist at the Fayetteville, Ark., Veteran’s Health Care System of the Ozarks, was charged with involuntary manslaughter, fraud and making false statements.

He was first caught drinking on the job in 2016 after he registered a blood-alcohol level of .396 — nearly five times Arkansas’ legal limit of .08. He had his medical license suspended and was forced to undergo three months of rehab.

But he was back at work by the end of the year, and prosecutors said he continued to show up drunk — even as he skated through a dozen blood and urine tests thanks to his favorite potion.

When he was finally caught in June 2018, the Veterans Administration launched an investigation that combed through the nearly 34,000 cases he handled since he was hired to the $225,000-a-year job in 2005, finding more than 3,000 errors, misdiagnoses or irregularities.

Prosecutors said he tried to cover up his mistakes by falsifying medical records for the vets he was treating, and in one case forged the name of another doctor to make it appear the second pathologist concurred with Levy’s blown diagnosis. He allegedly also lied to investigators from the VA and the US Attorneys Office.

“This indictment should remind us all that this country has a responsibility to care for those who have served honorably,” Duane Kees, US Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, said ina statement. “When that trust is violated through criminal conduct, those responsible must be held accountable.”

Levy pleaded not guilty at his arraignment in Little Rock on Tuesday.

With the AP

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