Mississippi VA paid neurosurgeon annual $339k+ salary despite barring him from seeing patients 4 years ago

 

Jackson, Miss.-based G.V. (Sonny) Montgomery VA Medical Center reportedly continued to pay Mohamed Eleraky, MD, PhD, his annual $339,177 salary despite suspending his operating privileges in 2013, according to WLTX-19 News.

According to a lawsuit, Dr. Eleraky was initially suspended in July 2013, but was not provided with a reason for his suspension despite numerous inquiries. The hospital reportedly suspended him following questions about his treatment of five anonymous patients, the report states.

The lawsuit states Dr. Eleraky received a second letter in April 2014 informing him his clinical privileges at the hospital had been suspended. The suspension remained in place for two years, during which "[Dr. Eleraky] was relegated to sitting in his office with no job responsibilities … [and] had no effective opportunity to have the actions taken against his privileges reversed," according to the lawsuit.

The hospital fired him in August 2016 after Dr. Eleraky allegedly complained to the federal VA department about his inability to resolve the suspension, according to the report.

Dr. Eleraky has since rejoined the hospital staff, but "is not in a patient care position, nor will he ever be until it is clear he has the requisite skills to practice neurosurgery," G.V. (Sonny) Montgomery VA Medical Center Director David Walker, MD, said in a statement, according to WLTX-19 News.

Dr. Eleraky is currently awaiting direction from the VA to regain privileges to conduct surgery at the facility, which expired during his two-year suspension.

Despite suspending Dr. Eleraky and barring him from conducting surgery and treating patients, the VA hospital continued to pay him his annual salary, amounting to more than $1 million during the course of three-and-a-half years, according to the report.

In a statement to WLTX-19 News, a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs said VA Secretary David Shulkin, MD, "has made clear that any VA doctors who were hired for clinical positions are required to practice in a clinical position caring for patients. If the medical center leadership does not feel Dr. Eleraky is able to resume surgical duties, we will ensure he is moved to caring for patients in a clinical, non-surgical capacity, and adjust his salary downward to reflect his new role."

The spokesperson also said the department is "exploring whether additional grounds exist to pursue other disciplinary actions for Dr. Eleraky with a new set of facts."

To read the VA department's full statement, click here.

Editor's note: Becker's Hospital Review reached out to the G.V. (Sonny) Montgomery VA Medical Center for comment and will update as more information becomes available.

More articles on hospital-physician relationships:
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