Rep. John Barrow has called on the acting inspector general of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to investigate potential wrongdoings in Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center’s radiology department.
Barrow’s request followed a report by a local NBC affiliate that raised allegations that a doctor in the radiology department misread patient scans and ordered “unnecessary, and often invasive medical, procedures,” according to a letter Barrow sent Wednesday to Acting Inspector General Richard J. Griffin.
An anonymous letter to WAGT detailed misconduct of Dr. Katherine Mathews, a radiologist at Charlie Norwood. In an interview with the station, Mathews defended her work reading medical scans and instead brought forward new allegations that the hospital spent money on a PET-CT scanner that went unused for a year. The department also had a backlog of more than 500 ultrasounds, she said.
Mathews told the station the anonymous letter was retaliation for speaking up when the department was mismanaged.
Allegations surrounding the radiology department are the latest accusations of inadequate care at Charlie Norwood. It has been involved in an ongoing investigation by the House Committee on Veterans Affairs since 2013 for three veteran deaths in 2012 caused by excessive delays in its gastrointestinal program.
The Augusta medical center, however, is not one of 26 Department of Veterans Affairs facilities under investigation in connection with recent complaints about falsified records and treatment delays, which prompted the resignation of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki on Friday.
According to Barrow’s letter, Charlie Norwood’s radiology department needs an investigation similar to other reviews underway at VA facilities across the nation.
“These allegations, if true, represent serious breaches of public trust, not just for our veterans, but for all Americans,” he wrote in the letter.
Barrow’s mailing to Griffin included the anonymous letter and a transcript of WAGT’s report.
“This issue is far too serious for us to overlook,” he said.
Charlie Norwood spokesman Pete Scovill said he could not comment on Barrow’s letter.
Mathews told WAGT she is on paid leave because of a pending lawsuit she filed against the medical center.