Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, responds to questions from the crowd at a Town Hall meeting in the Iowa Memorial Union on Friday, Sept. 22, 2017. (James Year/The Daily Iowan)

Senators hone in on Iowa City VA wrongful practices 


Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs after a report surfaced on the hiring of an Iowa City VA neurosurgeon with a history of known claims of malpractice and poor patient care.

Sens. Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, contacted the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs on Monday because of a report citing the hiring of VA doctors despite known claims of malpractice and poor patient care.

The USA Today investigative report was linked in a digital press release from Grassley’s office.

The report discussed neurosurgeon John Henry Schneider, who, according to USA Today, was accused of surgical mistakes that left patients severely injured or in some cases, dead.

“He was accused of costing one patient bladder and bowel control after placing spinal screws incorrectly, he allegedly left another paralyzed from the waist down after placing a device improperly in his spinal canal,” read the USA Today report.

Schneider got the position at the Iowa City VA despite having his medical license revoked in Wyoming.

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In their letter to the VA, the senators said hiring physicians who provide quality care should go without saying.

“Veterans who receive care through the VA deserve the highest standard of care available. This high standard applies throughout an entire episode of care but is most critical when a veteran sees their physicians,” the senators wrote. “It should go without saying that physicians hired by the VA should be fit to practice and have a track record of providing quality care.”

In the letter to Secretary David Shulkin, the senators cited the Veterans Health Administration Handbook 1100.19, which, they said, proves that Schneider’s hiring is not permitted by the VA’s standards.

“Applicants … who had such license, registration, or certification revoked for professional misconduct, professional incompetence, or substandard care by any of those States, or voluntarily relinquished a license, registration, or certification in any of those States after being notified in writing by that State of potential termination for professional misconduct, professional incompetence, or substandard care, are not eligible for appointment,” reads the handbook.

The senators also contended that the handbook should have determined that the neurosurgeon’s employment was illegal, not the report.

— Madeleine Neal 

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