X-ray technologist says reporting VA exam mishandling ruined his life

2021 09 28 17 48 5724 Business Whistleblower Press 400

An x-ray technologist who blew the whistle on what he said were inappropriately canceled imaging exams at the Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center in Iowa City, IA, is "fighting for job and reputation," according to a news report.

Jeff Dettbarn raised the alarm in 2017 about canceled x-ray exam orders that were coming through the radiology department printer but didn't seem to be issued by a physician, according to a story published September 24 in the Gazette.

Dettbarn approached the hospital's patient safety department and informed the VA's compliance officer. Nothing was done to remedy the situation, and when Dettbarn filed another report, he was reassigned to a clerical position outside of radiology, according to the Gazette.

The problem wasn't just in Iowa City: Inappropriately canceled orders were reported at other VA hospitals across the U.S., a 2019 audit found. Also that year, Dettbarn spoke before Congress about the canceled reports.

Critics have accused the VA of canceling orders for radiology exams in order to clear a backlog of requests. The 2019 found that a shortage of scheduling staff, aging equipment, and rising volume were among the reasons for the cancellations.

In Dettbarn's case, he was informed in January that he would be returning to the radiology department the following month -- to work with the same supervisors he says tried to discredit him. He did not choose to return and is negotiating with the hospital to find another position, the Gazette reported.

"It's wrecked my life and there's no way to move forward because it's still ongoing," Dettbarn told the Gazette. "They say there are whistleblower protections, but nobody stands behind it."

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