The Department of Justice U.S. Attorney’s Office Western District of Arkansas (“U.S. Attorney”) announced on August 20, 2019 that 53-year-old Robert Morris Levy (“Levy”), who served as the Chief of Pathology and Laboratory Medical Services at the Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks (“VA”) from 2005 until he was terminated in 2018, was arrested on federal charges stemming from a year-long investigation. The indictment issued by a federal grand jury in the Western District of Arkansas contains twelve counts of wire fraud, twelve counts of mail fraud, four counts of making false statements in certain matters, and three counts of involuntary manslaughter.
According to the U.S. Attorney, Levy was interviewed in 2015 by an administrative fact-finding panel regarding reports that he was under the influence of alcohol while on duty. Levy denied the allegations at that time. Then, in 2016, Levy appeared to be intoxicated while on duty and a subsequent drug and alcohol test revealed Levy’s blood alcohol content was .396.0 mg/dL. As a result, the VA summarily suspended Levy’s privileges to practice medicine and issued Levy a written notice of removal and revocation of clinical privileges. Levy acknowledged that the pending proposed removal and revocation of clinical privileges was “due to unprofessional conduct related to high blood alcohol content while on duty” and in July 2016, Levy voluntarily entered a three-month in-patient treatment program, which he completed in October 2016.
The U.S. Attorney contends that on twelve occasions beginning in June 2017 and continuing through 2018, while Levy was contractually obligated to submit to random drug and alcohol screens, Levy purchased for personal consumption 2-methyl-2-butanol (2M-2B), a chemical substance that enables a person to achieve a state of intoxication but is not detectable in routine drug and alcohol testing methodology.
The Indictment charges that Levy devised a scheme to defraud the Department of Veterans Affairs and to obtain money and property from the VA in the form of salary, benefits, and performance awards he would not have received had the VA known Levy was intentionally concealing his non-compliance with the drug and alcohol testing program. In furtherance of this scheme, the Indictment charges that Levy concealed a material fact and made material false and fraudulent representations.
The Indictment alleges that Levy twice made false statements to a special agent of the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Veterans Affairs and that Levy made false statements in health care matters by entering information in a patient’s medical records that Levy knew to be false and by making a false statement during a grievance hearing related to his employment.
The Indictment further charges Levy with three counts of involuntary manslaughter for causing the death of three patients through entering incorrect and misleading diagnoses and, on two occasions, by falsifying entries in the patients’ medical records to state that a second pathologist concurred with the diagnosis Levy had made. The Indictment alleges that the incorrect and misleading diagnoses rendered by Levy caused the deaths of three veterans.
It has been reported that a June 2018 review of 33,902 cases in which Levy was involved since 2005 found more than 3,000 mistakes or misdiagnoses of patients at the VA, of which 30 misdiagnoses were found to have resulted in serious health risks to patients.
If you or a loved one suffered serious injury or death as a result of medical care received through the VA (or necessary medical care that was delayed or never provided by the VA), you should promptly consult with a medical malpractice attorney in your U.S. state who handles medical malpractice claims against the VA, who may investigate your VA medical malpractice claim for you and guide you and represent you with regard to complying with the requirements regarding bringing claims against the VA for medical negligence.
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