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story.lead_photo.caption Robert Morris Levy

FAYETTEVILLE -- The former pathologist accused of missing diagnoses while impaired at work at the Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks hospital in Fayetteville was booked into the Washington County jail Saturday morning.

The jail booking log listed no charges for Dr. Robert Morris Levy, 53, of Fayetteville. The federal Department of Veterans Affairs was listed as the arresting agency. The log indicated that he was being held at the request of the federal government.

Dak Kees, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, has called a news 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 health care system.

The pathology review included every case Levy worked on since he was hired in 2005. Levy said in an earlier interview that he had worked while impaired by alcohol in 2016 but that he did not work while impaired afterward. A review of his work in 2016 reportedly found no errors.

He was suspended in March 2016, accused of being impaired at work, then returned to work that October after counseling and after the check of his pathology results, according to reports. 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.

A second review of Levy's work began in June of 2018.

Also, two inquiries 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 to learn about what allowed this situation. The other was a criminal investigation.

The System of the Ozarks worked closely with the inspector general and local-level authorities in the investigation, according to a statement from the system. The statement referred requests for additional information to the U.S. attorney's office.

"Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks apologizes to veterans and family members negatively impacted by this now-fired former employee and has reviewed every case this individual handled while he was at VA," the statement read. Veterans and families affected by the errors have been notified of their legal options, the statement said.

The medical review by outside pathologists discovered 3,029 errors in pathology results from 2005-17, said Kelvin Parks, director of the system. Most of the mistakes carried little consequences, he said.

The 3,029 errors out of 33,902 cases make for an error rate of 8.9% compared with 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.

Metro on 08/18/2019

Print Headline: VA arrests pathologist accused of missing patients' diagnoses

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