VA Suspends Surgeries at Illinois Hospital Due to Rise in Post-Op Deaths

The Department of Veterans Affairs has suspended all inpatient surgeries at its medical center here after an uptick in the number of post-surgical deaths, and two top hospital officials have been reassigned.

The department said Friday that it made the changes at the hospital, in southern Illinois, after an inspection Aug. 31 by the Veterans Affairs National Surgical Quality Review team.

The VA says it is investigating possible reasons for the increase in the number of deaths after certain inpatient surgeries earlier this year. Details on the investigation and the deaths were not immediately available.

The department on Thursday reassigned the hospital's director, Robert Morrel, and chief of staff, Dr. Joe Herman. Pete McBrady has been named acting director of the Marion center.

Messages left at the Marion VA Medical Center, the Department of Veterans Affairs in Washington and at a listing for a Robert Morrel in Marion were not returned Friday evening. A telephone listing for Joe Herman in the Marion area could not be found.

The decision to halt inpatient procedures affects only surgical care, and other center functions will continue, said Dr. Peter Almenoff, director of the VA Heartland Network.

Other VA centers and nearby private facilities are performing veterans' surgeries during the investigation in Marion, officials said.