Former VA employee charged in death of 3 Veterans

A pathologist working for Arkansas Veterans Hospital has been fired from his post after officials have found him guilty of involuntary manslaughter that ended in the deaths of three patients. Officials have claimed he may be impaired, however, the authorities counter that not only did he misdiagnose them but is guilty of altering the records to conceal his mistakes. 

Dr. Robert Morris Levy was charged with multiple accounts of frauds and falsifying statements in an attempt to conceal substance abuse and incorrect diagnoses. 

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Levy worked at the Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks, located in Fayetteville. He was fired in April of 2018.

In January, VA officials stated that outside pathologists went through nearly 34,000 cases that were handled by Levy. With that many cases handled, more than 3,000 errors and missed diagnosis were made and it dates back to 2006. Levy admitted showing up to work at the institution drunk in 2016 but denies allegations of working under impairment. While he did enter a treatment program following the incident, he returned to work in October of 2016 after agreeing to the hospital's rule to remain sober and also submitting himself for random drug testing. 

Currently, Levy is held at Washington County Jail. While he pleads not guilty at his hearing this Tuesday, Duane Kees, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, stated in a conference, that Levy did not obtain counsel to represent him in the case.

One of the deaths he is accused of falsifying entries is a case where the patient died of prostate cancer. However, biopsy shows he did not have cancer and Levy is found guilty of falsifying his patient's records after making an incorrect and misleading diagnosis. 

A second death, prosecutors have shown, was of a patient who died of squamous cell carcinoma. However, Levy misdiagnosed the patient with another form of carcinoma. A third case took place with the patient dying after being treated for a type of cancer he didn't have, the patient actually had small cell carcinoma which was misdiagnosed once again by Levy. 

In these two cases, he's accused of falsifying patient's medical records, even including a second pathologist to support his claims. 

In two cases, he's accused of falsifying patient's medical records to state that a second pathologist agreed with his diagnosis.

Prosecutors reveal that Levy received bonuses 2016-2017 for confessing his clinical errors which he claimed were less than 5%. According to the indictment, almost 10% of the diagnosis he made resulted in clinical errors. 

Levy's claims of not being under the influence of any intoxicants were found to be untrue, with him ingesting 2-methyl-2-butanol, a chemical that would intoxicate him. The standard drug and alcohol screenings don't test for that and so he is found clear. Not only is he accused of lying to hospital officials, but he is also accused of multiple counts of mail and wire fraud for his purchase of chemicals on top of manslaughter charges. 

Kees stated that Levy "had the medical expertise, the knowledge, the skill set and the equipment to know exactly how much of this substance to take. He had the equipment to measure it out precisely, and he had the knowledge to know how to ingest it so it wouldn't be fatal."

Should Levy be convicted of all counts, he will face up to 524 years in prison and $7.75 million in fines.

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