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story.lead_photo.caption Robert Morris Levy

The Veterans administration pathologist accused of missing diagnosis while impaired at work was booked into the Washington County jail Saturday morning.

The jail booking log lists no charge for Dr. Robert Morris Levy. The Veterans Administration is listed as the arresting agency and the log indicates he's being held as a courtesy to the federal government. Dak Kees, U.S. attorney for the western district of Arkansas, has called a press conference for Tuesday to discuss the case.

A yearlong review of 33,902 pathology results found 30 missed diagnoses posing serious health risks to patients, according to results released May 31 by the Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks.

The pathology review includes every case pathologist Dr. Robert Morris Levy of Fayetteville worked on since his hiring in 2005. Levy confirmed he worked while impaired with alcohol in 2016, but said he did not work while impaired afterward. A review of his work in 2016 found no errors. The veterans system will not confirm Levy as the pathologist, saying it is a personnel matter.

The veterans system has apologized to those impacted by the former employee and said that it has communicated with those people about next steps, according to a statement released Saturday.

Levy was suspended in March 2016 for being impaired, but he returned to work that October after counseling and after the check of his work. Levy was again taken off clinical work in October 2017 after what the hospital described as a second instance of working while impaired. His dismissal in April came after a personnel review.

The review of Levy's work began in June of 2018.

Two inquiries also were conducted into the misdiagnoses, both by the Office of the Inspector General of the federal Department of Veterans Affairs, according to previous department announcements.

One was a clinical and administrative review of what went wrong to allow this situation.

The other was a criminal investigation.

The medical review by outside pathologists discovered 3,029 errors in results of a single pathologist from 2005 to 2017, said Kelvin Parks, director of the system. Most of those mistakes carried little consequences, he said.

The 3,029 errors out of 33,902 cases make for an error rate of 8.9% compared to a pathology practice average of 0.7%, Parks said. That works out to an error rate more than 12 times the average, figures show.

The Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks serves veterans in 23 counties in Northwest Arkansas, southwest Missouri and eastern Oklahoma.

The story has been updated with a statement Saturday afternoon from the veterans system.

NW News on 08/17/2019

Print Headline: VA arrests former pathologist

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