DIGGING DEEPER: Claims made by former Tomah VA chief about his r - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

DIGGING DEEPER: Claims made by former Tomah VA chief about his record don't match report

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MADISON (WKOW) -- The former chief of staff at the Tomah VA Medical Center who lost his license to practice medicine in Wisconsin Wednesday said some things to 27 News about his record that don't hold up to further examination.

The Wisconsin Medical Examination Board suspended the license of Dr. David Houlihan after an attorney with the Department of Safety and Professional Services made the case that allowing his license to stay active would be "downright dangerous."    

The psychiatrist was fired as the chief of staff at the Tomah VA Medical Center last year, after an investigation found his over prescription of opiates caused the death of a patient.

Houlihan had started up a private psychiatric practice in La Crosse last month.

"I don't think there has been a fair dealing with me," said Dr. Houlihan, who explained he wanted to do an interview with 27 News to get his side of the story out.

But some of the things he said didn't hold up to further scrutiny, including his claim that he wasn't responsible for the death of 35 year-old veteran Jason Simcakoski in August 2014.

"No, I wasn't. And I know it's hard to believe that when you look at it. As I said, I was a consulting psychiatrist, I was an informal consultant to the primary psychiatrist," said Dr. Houlihan.

Simcakoski did have a primary psychiatrist, but the VA Inspector General's report on Simcakoski's death released in August 2015 found it was Houlihan who actually wrote the prescription for the painkiller buprenorphine days before his death.

"The Inspector General went through and investigated it. They did not say that our drugs killed that patient," said Dr. Houlihan.

But that's actually not what the IG's investigation concluded, instead saying that adding the buprenorphine to the long list of other prescription drugs with sedative qualities that Simcakoski was taking was "the plausible mechanism of action for a fatal outcome."

But Houlihan insisted there was no wrongdoing on his part.
"I couldn't live with myself, quite honestly, if it was that way. I do care very much for my patients and I couldn't live with myself if it was that way," said Dr. Houlihan.

There will be a chance for Dr. Houlihan to refute all of those findings.

The VA is holding a hearing April 11 on Dr. Houlihan's appeal of his termination from the VA and his loss of privileges to practice in the VA System.

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