The VA allegedly kept critical safety information secret, ((AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Doctors and nurses with a history of serious medical errors were allowed to quietly leave the Veterans Affairs system, and the VA did not disclose their troubling track records as they entered private practice, according to a USA Today investigation.

Why it matters: The behavior USA Today uncovered happened around the same time President Obama was embarking on a high-profile housecleaning of the department, and raise new questions about how well the VA tries to protects patients, as opposed to its own reputation.

The details: USA Today reviewed confidential records from 2014 and 2015 — around the time the VA was engulfed in a scandal over veterans who had died waiting for care at VA facilities.

The allegations:

  • Doctors and nurses who had made grave medical errors — in some cases, dozens of them — were allowed to "quietly resign" from the VA and move into private practice.
  • The VA often reached settlements with former health care workers in which it agreed to remove negative information from its employee files, and it often failed to report troubling information to the National Practitioner Data Bank — which made it easier for those workers to enter private practice without enhanced scrutiny from state regulators.

The response:

  • The VA has said it will now require more senior officials to approve settlements with employees, and will also review its policies about what gets reported to the National Practitioner Data Bank.

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