The Indiana podiatrist at the center of over 100 lawsuits against the Department of Veterans Affairs has been placed on probation for three years but will keep his license.
Bradley Hammersley was fired from the VA health system in northern Indiana in 2017. After an internal review, the VA disclosed that there were problems with 147 surgeries performed by Hammersley on the feet and ankles of veterans. A wave of lawsuits followed.
In July, Hammersley told BuzzFeed News that the allegations against him were false and that he was being made a scapegoat for institutional failures at the VA.
The Office of the Indiana Attorney General launched disciplinary action against Hammersley this spring. In October, the Indiana Board of Podiatric Medicine signed off on a settlement agreement that will allow him to continue practicing after completing professional training.
Under the agreement, obtained by BuzzFeed News, Hammersley is placed on probation for three years. The agreement does not bar him from practicing indefinitely, but it does dictate that he must undergo a competency assessment from the Center for Personalized Education for Professionals in Denver.
If the center recommends retraining, Hammersley will be barred from practicing podiatry until the licensing board approves him to return to work; if it recommends a more remedial training program, he will be able to continue practicing as long as he remains “actively engaged” in retraining.
In either case, Hammersley is barred from performing surgeries or amputations. To perform surgeries again, he will need to complete his training, petition the board, and receive approval.
Hammersley previously told BuzzFeed News that he is no longer performing surgeries because malpractice insurance became too expensive after the VA lawsuits.
Under the terms of the probation, he is banned from owning or co-owning a practice and must disclose his probation to his employer. His employer must conduct quarterly audits of his cases and provide reports to the board. Hammersley must also pay the state of Indiana $10,750 to cover the state’s expert witness fees.
Hammersley declined to comment through his lawyer. The Indiana attorney general’s office could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
The auditor general’s case against Hammersley did not encompass the vast majority of the surgeries involved in lawsuits. Rather, it focused on his treatment of three unidentified veterans.
In the case of “Patient FB,” Hammersley misdiagnosed an injury, incorrectly performed an operation, and unnecessarily removed a section of the patient’s trabecular bone, according to the settlement agreement.
In the case of “Patient DL,” Hammersley conceded that he performed a surgery incorrectly. In the case of “Patient CC,” he agreed that he'd failed to perform diagnostic tests and misdiagnosed injuries in the patient’s left and right ankles. Both statements were part of the settlement agreement.
Hammersley argues that the internal VA investigation was flawed and conducted by a colleague who was trying to push him aside. It seems his arguments will likely never be tested in court. The VA, not Hammersley, is being sued over his surgeries, and the agency has been settling those cases out of court over the past year.