Texas Neurologist is Rare Breed: “Serial Medical Whistleblower” Fights Corruption at Expense of Own Career
Robert Van Boven saves peoples' lives. He also pisses people off. The Lakeway (Austin, Texas) neurologist, currently embroiled in a years-long legal combat with the hospital that once employed him, the state agency that attempted to end his career, and a range of lawyers and officials who believe they can wear him down and defeat him, has a long record of getting crossways with the authorities. In one professional position after another, he has consistently refused to go along to get along, and his resistance has cost him dearly. He is described by most fellow professionals as an extraordinarily accomplished doctor – among other distinctions, he was a member of the legendary 1987 Johns Hopkins surgical team that performed a groundbreaking procedure to separate conjoined twins. But he has also repeatedly clashed with institutional expectations, rules, and administrators – and met with recurrent retaliation, most recently severe enough that he fears he may never be able to practice medicine freely again. A selected list of the results of Van Boven's whistleblowing include a 2007 settlement with a Minnesota medical facility over its retaliation against him for reporting hospital harm; a 2010 settlement with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs over retaliation for his reports of mismanagement at a VA neurology facility at Pickle Research Campus (Austin); a brief 2010 dismissal from a Defense Department research appointment (reassigned after a public outcry); and most recently (2016-present), an ongoing legal dispute with LRMC and its successor, Baylor Scott & White Medical Center-Lakeway, and the Texas Medical Board, temporary but devastating restrictions on Van Boven's medical practice, and an eventual exoneration last December. "I don't know if I'll ever be able to practice medicine again," he said some months ago. "But I'll be damned if I'm going to let these bastards destroy me."