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Whistleblowing VA dentist placed on administrative leave

VA patients rely on timely consultations and treatments for their injuries, many of which might be severe or stemming from their service in the armed forces. Unfortunately, VA patients in Wisconsin and elsewhere often face long wait times, and one dentist claims she knows why. Currently in an administrative position as a result of being targeted for whistleblowing, she blames much of the dental care weight times on paperwork.

Rather than file things electronically, employees at the VA dental clinic where she worked were expected to fill out paper work by hand and then fax them elsewhere to be entered into the electronic system. She claims that this was a lengthy process that could take anywhere from several days to many weeks, and that it caused significant delays in patient care. An investigation revealed that one patient sought consultation for a mouth lesion, and had to wait just shy of three months for a biopsy request.

Furthermore, denied claims were not even entered into the electronic system, essentially erasing any proof of requests on behalf of certain patients. The system also routinely denied requests for patients who lived hundreds of miles away from the VA dental clinic. If they wanted to receive proper care, they were forced to make the long journey to the VA clinic, even if there were other approved dental practitioners nearby.

Shortly after the whistleblowing incident, the VA attempted to have the dentist fired for professional misconduct. She pushed back, claiming that the move to terminate her employment was retaliation, and was instead placed in an administrative position where she is no longer able to see and treat patients. Whistleblowing can create a difficult and unfair environment for those who are brave enough to call attention to wrongdoings, but those who make this decision are not without options. Wisconsin whistleblowers may seek legal recourse against retaliatory employers, and many are able to achieve just legal recourse through this action.

Source: billingsgazette.com, "Whistleblower in Billings VA clinic faces removal while office is shut down", Matt Hudson, Oct. 20, 2017

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