3 deaths found in investigation of impaired pathologist

September 24, 2018 GMT

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — A Veterans Affairs hospital official said Monday investigators have discovered 11 significant errors including three deaths in more than 30,000 cases originally seen by a fired Arkansas pathologist officials say was working while impaired.

Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks spokeswoman Wanda Shull said those 11 errors constituted “institutional disclosures,” which are mistakes in patient care that could or did result in “death or serious injury.” Shull said those veterans and their families, including families of the three deceased veterans, have been notified.


Previously, investigators had discovered one potential death among Dr. Robert Morris Levy’s cases. Levy has denied working while impaired at the hospital in Fayetteville.

Officials have discovered 1,119 total errors, although not all resulted in change in care. Investigators are just under halfway through the more than 30,000 cases under review.

Internal and external pathologists are conducting the review, beginning with higher-priority and more complex cases. Additionally, both the VA Office of Inspector General and the hospital are investigating whether the hospital acted properly after Levy was initially found to be impaired in March 2016.

After completing an in-patient program, Levy returned to work, under monitor by a physician health program. In October 2017, Levy was again found to be impaired. Although Levy admits showing up to work drunk in 2016, he says he had a misinterpreted complex migraine in 2017 and was fired after he was arrested for a DUI which was ultimately dismissed. The hospital has said it does not comment on personnel issues.

Levy was licensed to work in California, Florida and Mississippi (VA doctors do not need to be licensed in the state in which they practice). Online searches reveal active licenses in California and Florida, though Levy has said he does not intend to return to pathology.

In July, the hospital sent letters to the nearly 20,000 veterans whose cases were being reviewed. Shull said the hospital is now starting to notify patients whose cases are complete with the results of the review.