Dr Jeffrey Fudin - vawbccom by leader6


									Dr. Jeffrey Fudin
May 15, 2007 No Fear Tribunal
Washington D.C.

No VA health care provider should every need to choose between the safety of a veteran or
career and family. No VA employee of any sort should ever need to choose between disclosing
waste, fraud, and abuse or career and family

My name is Dr. Jeffrey Fudin. I am a Clinical Pharmacy Specialist at the Stratton VA Medical
Center in Albany, NY. I have worked there for 23 years. In part because of years of retaliation,
observations of veteran harm and abuse, and punishment to those who dared speak out, I founded
the VA Whistleblowers Coalition in April 2005 with the encouragement of my respected friend
and colleague, Sibel Edmonds (founder of the National Security Whistleblower Coalition).

There are three points I’d like to cover in my short time at the podium:
    Documentation exists nationwide that veteran patients have been harmed, abused, and
       even killed, while certain government agencies have served to protect these
       transgressions. The VA whistleblower Coalition has members from various VA’s from
       coast to coast that will establish this fact.
    Professional VA career and newly hired employees lack the whistleblowing protection
       they are entitled to as federal employees, since the Office of Special Counsel and Merit
       Systems Protection Board have failed to uphold their statutory duties to protect against
       retaliation for whistleblowing.
    VA administrators are not held accountable for their actions of retaliation and are often
       rewarded for their sinister activities.

On February 6, 2005, the New York Times reported that Paul Kornak pled guilty to fraud and
criminally negligent homicide. Kornak was a nonphysician employee at the Stratton Veterans
Affairs Medical Center (SVAMC) in Albany, New York. In 2005, a federal judge sentenced
Kornak to the maximum prison term of six years. According to a local report, "At least one
veteran died and 64 others suffered unduly or were harmed by the forgeries, which involved
manipulating their medical backgrounds so they would qualify to participate in lucrative drug
studies ...."[2] A decade earlier, two pharmacists had warned that patients were placed at risk or
had died because of similar unethical experimentation.[2] I am one of those pharmacists.

Following termination from the Stratton VA Hospital in Albany, and as a cautious returning
Stratton employee, I watched the 2002 Kornak story unfold in my local newspaper.[2] I knew in
my heart that although Kornak deserved punishment for his crimes, he had been used by the
government as a convenient scapegoat to avoid accountability for more than a decade of
criminality predating his employment.

My story:
It was in April 1993, after first following the usual chain of command, I initially visited our
hospital’s chief of staff to orally report various cancer research violations. Some patients had
been placed in research studies without informed consent, and some were coerced into study
participation. Several patients did not meet study inclusion criteria for company-sponsored

pivotal trials. Groups of patients received chemotherapy combinations of drugs with Food and
Drug Administration-approved labeling to treat unsubstantiated tumor types while the study
investigators secretly collected outcomes data. After documenting certain violations; within a
month, I was the subject of an internal investigation questioning my professional conduct.

As I climbed the chain of command to report my observations, it became painfully obvious that
institution officials were angered by my "protected" disclosures. I felt obligated to bring my
concerns to an outside agency, the VA Office of Inspector General (VAOIG). According to
documents filed with VAOIG, certain cancer patients were being placed on physically
incompatible drug combinations. Outcomes data were selectively collected, several patients were
harmed, and some required follow-up surgery for problems that occurred because of the illegal
experimentation. After putting these concerns in writing, I was threatened. I reported many other
research violations involving multiple studies; however, the extent and complexity preclude
discussion today.

In 1996 I wrote a report of my findings and sent copies to several administrative medical
personnel at our hospital. It included my refusal to participate or comply with any physician
orders to dispense medications, at unstudied dosages in unstudied combinations, to any veterans.
Within two days, I received a memorandum charging me with "patient abuse for failure to
dispense medication as required by the oncologist." This prompted me to file complaints with the
VAOIG, the New York State Office of Professional Discipline (NYS-OPD), and the Office of
Special Counsel (a federal agency supposedly in place to protect federal whistleblowers). The
NYS-OPD abrogated the complaint and sent it back to the VAOIG, since it was deemed a federal
matter. As the conspiracy unraveled, I learned that the VAOIG had been working collaboratively
with certain VA officials; this collaboration, in my opinion, served to avoid the VA's
accountability. Although some cursory investigations commenced, it became clear that a conflict
of interest existed, since the VAOIG is a federal agency that was working collaboratively with
the VA. As research funds continued to pour into our hospital, pressures to squelch my
disclosures at a very high administrative level seemed implausible but real. For instance, within
two days of my reporting another serious research violation that sent a patient to the medical
intensive care unit, I was investigated for "practicing outside [my] scope by requiring certain
blood work prior to dispensing chemotherapy."

Because of the hostile conflicts I encountered in trying to protect our patients, I felt it necessary
to report evidence to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Unfortunately, the local FBI
office accepted the VA Inspector General’s request not to investigate, since I was the subject of a
new internal VA Inspector General investigation for practicing outside my approved scope or
professional practice. In essence, the FBI did not investigate even after I produced documented
evidence of patient harm, abuse, and deaths; this suggested to me an inappropriate collaboration
between VAOIG officials, FBI, and VA administrators. Our VA was, however, obligated to
convene an internal investigation to determine the legitimacy of my allegations. The
investigation was assigned to Dr. Thomas Ferro. Many of his findings were consistent with my
disclosures.[3] But the chief of staff changed the report and ordered Dr. Ferro to sign off on
certain edits and to destroy any original documents and computer files. Dr. Ferro admitted this to
investigative reporters for a local newspaper and the New York Times, published February 6,

2005.[1,3] The administrative physician that ordered the falsification of federal documents has
been promoted several times, and remains within the VA system.

The Inspector General shared confidential nformation with the Stratton VA Administration and
convinced the FBI not to investigate my concerns. A newly assigned Regional Pharmacy
Manager fabricated a story that I was illegally writing prescriptions for controlled
substances. The VA levied these allegations against me, engaged the DEA, U.S. Attorney's
Office, New York State Board of Pharmacy, and the New York Bureau of Controlled
Substances, to sanction me. With all the expense, aggravation, and time-consuming efforts of
the VA to discredit me and destroy my career, rather than focusing energies on protecting
veterans and holding corrupt administrators accountable, none of these agencies found me to be
at fault. After a host of more retaliatory activities against me, I was eventually fired. The person
making these accusations and proposing my terminations, was whisked off to a Washington-
based promotion with days of terminating me from federal employment.

I brought my case to the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) on four separate occasions. One of
my cases was denied by the Merit System Protection Board (MSPB) after being placed
on suspension without pay for one week. One year later (2001), I was terminated from my job at
the Stratton VA after 17 years of flawless dedication to patient care and the DVA. Upon
termination, I was finally allowed to be heard in MSPB hearings, prevailed in 2002, and was
returned to work at the Stratton VA. But, the Administrative Law Judge refused to hear
testimony about the retaliation for whistleblowing and did not sanction anybody within the VA
for what they did. She would only acknowledge that I was wrongfully terminated. Nobody that
participated in the retaliation was ever held accountable. In fact, almost all were promoted.

Five years later (2007) I brought the VA before the same MSPB Administrative Law Judge on
new charges of retaliation which began in 2004. While she acknowledged a clear history of
whistleblowing and it was well-established that retaliating VA officials had knowledge of those
activities, and the documents clearly showed a trail of activities for the latest retaliatory
activities, the judge ignored key evidence and accepted only self-serving testimony from VA
administrators. That case was lost with a subsequent refusal for appeal by what I consider to be
a Kangaroo Federal Court system.

My credentials as a clinician, researcher, publisher, and scientist are many. It is my opinion that
only because of my strong well-recognized and organized professional attributes, but mostly a lot
of luck, that I have been able to survive the ordeal dealt to me by the Department of Veterans
Affairs hospital in Albany collaboratively with other federal agencies, perhaps most notably,
Washington DVA officials, VA Office of Inspector General, OSC, and MSPB. Unfortunately, in
my case, the records clearly reflect that several government agencies have served to covertly
participate in retaliation by falling short of their statutory duties to protect the federal
whistleblower. More importantly, a systemic failure on the part of government agencies to
protect whistleblowers within the VA system sends a powerful message to this country that we
are more interested in covering up the truth than caring for soldiers who risk their lives to
maintain freedom of speech.

On behalf of VA Whistleblowers Coalition, our veteran patients, the healthcare
providers and supportive staff that care for them, help us to uphold the
medical ethical standards set forth by various medical organizations, and to
ensure the best medical care possible for our newest returning OIF and OEF

My experience calls for you to PUNISH, PUBLICIZE, and PROTECT!

We plead with you to support our key points:

1) a GAO investigation of bad faith peer review,
2) Congressional hearings to once again confirm that retaliation for blowing
the whistle on poor patient care or abuse is rampant within the DVA,
3) enforcement of all laws and regulations, particularly with regard to the VA
Inspector General, Office of Special Counsel and Merit System protection
Board to ensure they abide by their statutory obligations,
4) hold accountable those federally employed VA administrators at various
facilities that have participated in retaliation at the expense of veterans
patients and the careers of honest employees, and

NO soldier past or present should be the victim of a VA employee that is
coerced into choosing between patient safety or career and family.

Help our coalition members to educate you. Punish those VA officials swiftly
and comprehensively and make it public. Help us to shift the paranoia from
honest veteran caregivers to certain criminal VA officials.
Punish them, publicize their punishment, and protect us.


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