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Posted by on May 19, 2014 in Government, Health, Military | 16 comments

Report: VA Hospitals Scandal Worsens

Steve Sack, The Minneapolis Star Tribune

Steve Sack, The Minneapolis Star Tribune

The country’s growing scandal involving the treatment Veterans Administrations hospitals are giving veterans has just gotten worse, The Daily Beast reports in an exclusive.

The article’s teaser says it all: “Veterans with serious heart conditions, gangrene, and even brain tumors waited months for care at the Albuquerque VA hospital, a whistleblowing doctor tells The Daily Beast. And here are some of the details that will give further ammunition to those who are seeking to see some changes — and resignations — at the V.A.:

Add Albuquerque, New Mexico’s to the growing list of VA hospitals accused of keeping secret waiting lists to hide delays for veterans seeking medical care. And it may already be too late to get to the truth and find out what harm, if any, was done to veterans there—VA officials are already destroying records to cover their tracks, a whistleblower inside the hospital tells The Daily Beast.

Last month, word broke that the Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Phoenix kept a secret waiting list that allegedly led to dozens of preventable deaths. The VA’s inspector general was brought in to investigate the charges and hasn’t yet found any deaths in Phoenix linked to wait times, but his investigation is ongoing. Since then five other facilities have come under fire, leading to calls for VA Secretary Eric Shinseki to step down. And now there’s Albuquerque’s. The evidence for this new secret list may be hard to track down, however.

“The ‘secret wait list’ for patient appointments is being either moved or was destroyed after what happened in Phoenix,” according to a doctor who works at the Albuquerque VA hospital and spoke exclusively with The Daily Beast. “Right now,” the doctor said, “there is an eight-month waiting list for patients to get ultrasounds of their hearts. Some patients have died before they got their studies. It is unknown why they died, some for cardiac reasons, some for other reasons.”

There’s no proof yet that veterans died while waiting for treatment, like what allegedly happened in Phoenix. But the doctor says it’s quite possible that some veterans would still be alive if they hadn’t been pushed through a record-keeping trap door that buried their requests for medical care.

Read the rest of it. This cartoon by Milton Priggee about says it all:
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Copyright 2014 The Moderate Voice
  • slamfu

    This is just shameful. Correct me if I’m wrong, but administering the VA is something that falls directly under the executive branch no? This is one area that no President can pass a buck on, unless I am mistaken. Seems like accountability here should be easy to assign, and easy to raise hell about.

  • dduck

    Like the cartoon says. 🙁

  • dduck

    If Obama has any b____ he would appoint someone powerful, like Bloomberg to fix this mess now and for the future.

  • sheknows

    Agree with duck. Obama has probably not been in the loop on this one, and his advisors suck. I am surprised though since Michelle takes such an avid interest in our soldiers that no complaints made their way until now.

    Anyway, Being asleep at the wheel is no excuse and he needs a real go getter to fix this mess and take off a few heads. You know, the governor’s office would have most assuredly heard from unhappy patients and their families, many times I am sure.

    Maybe Obama’s investigators should check in with miss finger in your face Jan Brewer on that to see if she was covering up anything. After all, she just gave a bunch of money to the VA. I am sure the vets write to her office.

  • The President has known about the problems for five years. Shameful is right.

    The Washington Times reported Monday that the Obama administration received notice more than five years ago that VA medical facilities were reporting inaccurate waiting times and experiencing scheduling failures that threatened to deny veterans timely health care.

    Veterans Affairs officials reportedly warned the Obama-Biden transition team in the weeks after the 2008 presidential election that the wait times that its facilities were reporting were not trustworthy.

    According to a memo the Times obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, “This is not only a data integrity issue in which [Veterans Health Administration] reports unreliable performance data; it affects quality of care by delaying – and potentially denying – deserving veterans timely care.”

  • Obama knew well about the problems. He gave a speech in person on August 13th, 2013 to Marines pledging to fix the problems. He has known. This scandal is directly in his lap.

  • I question how much noise the Republicans will make over this issue. The Republicans have repeatedly voted to reduce funds for the VA Hospitals. If this becomes a big issue, any recommendations for solving it would involve increasing funds for the VA, and Republicans don’t want to do this.

    The long wait times preceded Obama and are a direct consequence of insufficient funds. This problem is no surprise. The real scandal is that fake records were maintained to cover up the problem. That is inexcusable and anyone involved in this should be fired, if not prosecuted.

  • dduck

    Go back as far as you want and every president is guilty of doing a poor job for our injured troops. This should not be partisan, both Bush and Obama were supposed to fix it.

  • SteveK

    And it may already be too late to get to the truth and find out what harm, if any, was done to veterans there—VA officials are already destroying records to cover their tracks, a whistleblower inside the hospital tells The Daily Beast.

    With no actual “evidence” (ONE disgruntled employee… come on) it seems there are those who want to convict and hang before anything is learned… And a lot of people are jumping on the ignorance bandwagon to help. Good grief the Republicans can just sit back and watch on this one.

    In an earlier post I linked to several VA improvements here in Arizona (New Gilbert VA medical clinic to serve 14,000 veterans and the opening of our three times larger Yuma Clinic) not to mention the three years of 24/7 construction projects at the Tucson VA Hospital. I know from personal experience the ease of getting seen and quality of service at the VA and it’s spectacular.

    Two months ago at my regular 6 month checkup my VA PCP ordered a arterial blood draw, a cat scan, and an endoscopy that all had to be done at the Tucson VA. The cat scan and blood draw were done within two weeks but they couldn’t schedule the endoscopy for two months… So they ordered it done locally by a private physician and in less than three weeks that was taken care of too.

    In the last three years improvements in VA care has just gotten better not worse… (more to follow)

  • dduck

    This very confusing, SteveK.

  • SteveK

    The Washington Monthly – The Comforting Feeling of Rolling Heads

    … Now the call is for the head of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, after dozens of stories cited deaths allegedly related to delayed care for veterans at many of the nation’s 1700 veterans hospitals and treatment centers. If he is let go people may feel better. But will the issue be solved?
    .
    […]
    .
    VA hospitals and clinics served 8.76 million veterans last year… [it is rumored that 40 to 100 vets died or 1/100th of a percent]
    .
    […].
    .
    For some perspective: In 2010 the Office of Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services reported that bad care contributed to 180,000 deaths of patients in Medicare alone. As many as 440,000 people nationwide suffer from some sort of preventable harm which could have contributed to their death. And that is in our civilian hospitals. Medical error is the third leading cause of death in the US.
    .
    […]
    .
    According to the Associated Press yesterday, a recent report indicated that the department’s internal watchdog found no evidence that delays have caused patient deaths. President Obama has appointed deputy White House chief of staff to review VA policies and procedures.
    .
    […]

  • SteveK

    Sorry for the bad link earlier… Here it is fixed: the opening of our three times larger Yuma Clinic

  • Agree with dduck. This is not a partisan issue. And it goes waay. I recall that shameful care vets (who were my patients) were getting in the 80s and 90s.

    Today, athletes I work with who are vets often see private doctors when injured because they either cannot get in to see a physician or are denied care. Just awful.

  • sheknows

    Just a note if I may. I worked at the Omaha VAMC for 16 years. It was always the understanding that vets came to the VA when their private health insurance had run out and they had reached their lifetime max. Sure, there were those who came anyway, but usually no,t because they had jobs and therefore insurance through employers. However, the very ill with cancers and chronic problems had often hit their max and had no choice for care. Put another way…the VAMC is usually not the first choice of any vet simply because of the problems stated. It is faster and easier to get treated at a private hospital.
    It is no secret that there were fewer docs at the VA to handle cases, but because of that reciprocal agreements were often made with University hospitals for care…at least here in Ne.
    No one had to wait like these folks did, and if they did, there is more criminality involved than just indifference.

  • ordinarysparrow

    If these reports are true, it is so very wrong and shows how upside down we have become.
    I read this and cannot help but ponder the sickness of the American soul that tolerates it…
    It is one thing to have inadequate care, but to falsify the records to make it look good is so very inexcusable..
    Psychopaths know the differences between right and wrong, but don’t give a flip except when the spotlight is shown on their misdeeds…

    Mark Twain said something like….
    The fact that man knows right from wrong proves his intellectual superiority to the other creatures; but the fact that he can do wrong (at the most crucial times) proves his moral inferiority to other creatures.

    I read this and grasp what he was pointing towards…

    Really like the political cartoon, but having Uncle Sam say that seems inaccurate, for it is Uncle Sam in the form of elected officials, political divisiveness, government bureaucracy that is fully allowing this atrocious neglect. The caption should be spoken by EVERY American with absolute resolve that it must be cleaned up and the right thing done for the soldiers and vets or lose your privilege and position to implement and deliver care for vets and the American people.

  • Love it, ordinarysparrow.

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