Las Vegas physician accused of falsifying medical documents

A Las Vegas physician stands accused of falsifying blood pressure readings following an investigation by the Office of Inspector General at the Department of Veterans Affairs, CBS affiliate KLAS reported March 29. 

The report obtained by the news outlet does not disclose the physician's name. 

Several patients at the North Las Vegas VA Medical Center were allegedly affected. The outlet did confirm the physician provides primary care and is still employed by the hospital. 

The OIG found that 312 patients were documented as having blood pressure of 120/80 between January 2020 and January 2022. The alleged falsified readings occurred during virtual appointments. 

"The accuracy of which was highly unlikely as these measurements were expected to vary across multiple patients," John Daigh Jr., MD, assistant inspector general for healthcare, wrote in the report.

The physician said they believed the template for virtual visits required providers to enter false blood pressures and that they did not receive training for virtual visits, according to the news outlet.

"During an interview with the OIG on January 12, 2022, the provider reported being uncomfortable with the practice of documenting false blood pressures, yet failed to seek assistance," Dr. Daigh said in the report. 

The physician also said they believed no patients were harmed and all were sent blood pressure monitors. However, the investigation revealed that in 67 electronic health records reviewed out of the 312 patients, only nine patients are documented as having a blood pressure monitor, which they either already had or was provided by the physician. 

Following an alert from the OIG, the hospital's chief of staff had the physician stop entering false blood pressures, notified human resources and entered the physician into additional training. The chief of staff did not initially report the physician to the state licensing board, which was a violation, according to the news outlet. 

Hospital leadership said all blood pressure entries were reviewed, yet the OIG determined in its investigation this was not the case. 

"The Acting Chief of Staff was unable to provide rationale as to why all EHRs were not clinically reviewed or amended when asked by the OIG," Dr. Daigh said in the report.

Patients were not notified of the falsified blood pressure readings, according to the news outlet. 

"Due to the fact that all records in question were reviewed by [VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System] with no adverse clinical outcomes, and an addendum was placed all in affected medical records, no institutional disclosures or formal notifications to patients were required or completed outside the medical records update," Charles Ramey, chief of communication and customer experience, said in the report. "Based upon the practice of documenting erroneous blood pressures, VASNHS reported the provider to the State Licensing Board as VASNHS does not consider this an acceptable documentation practice."

The physician will have to undergo further training and observation and meet with the chief of primary care at the hospital weekly. The hospital will also place a direct order to cease and desist the falsification of the blood pressure results and review medical records. 

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