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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.

Go deeper

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Health: Most vulnerable Americans aren't getting enough vaccine information — Fauci says Trump administration's lack of facts on COVID "very likely" cost lives.
  2. Politics: Biden unveils "wartime" COVID strategyBiden's COVID-19 bubble.
  3. Vaccine: Florida requiring proof of residency to get vaccine — CDC extends interval between vaccine doses for exceptional cases.
  4. World: Hong Kong to put tens of thousands on lockdown as cases surge.
  5. Sports: 2021 Tokyo Olympics hang in the balance.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: Carbon Health's CEO on unsticking the vaccine bottleneck.

Trump impeachment trial to start week of Feb. 8, Schumer says

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: The Washington Post via Getty

The Senate will begin former President Trump's impeachment trial the week of Feb. 8, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Friday on the Senate floor.

The state of play: Schumer announced the schedule after reaching an agreement with Republicans. The House will transmit the article of impeachment against the former president late Monday.

4 hours ago - Health

CDC extends interval between COVID vaccine doses for exceptional cases

Photo: Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty

Patients can space out the two doses of the coronavirus vaccine by up to six weeks if it’s "not feasible" to follow the shorter recommended window, according to updated guidance from the Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention.

Driving the news: With the prospect of vaccine shortages and a low likelihood that supply will expand before April, the latest changes could provide a path to vaccinate more Americans — a top priority for President Biden.