According to news reports today, VA employees at an VA outpatient clinic in Fort Collins, Colorado falsified appointment records to hide the fact that many of the 6,300 veterans treated at the outpatient clinic waited months to be seen for treatment.
The VA's Office of Medical Inspector says that this was a deliberate attempt by supervisors at the Fort Collins outpatient clinic to make it appear that patients at the clinic did not have to wait longer than 14 days, before seeing a doctor.
After a series of news stories about how veterans had died while waiting long periods of time for treatment, the VA revamped its tracking procedures in 2013, and set the goal of having all VA patients seen within 14 days.
Unfortunately, a VA investigation found that last year only 41% of new patients were seen within 14 days.
Last month, the media was flooded with reports that 40 veterans in Phoenix had died while awaiting treatment at the Phoenix VA. At the time, it was reported that the veterans who died may have been placed on a secret waiting list.
Now, the exact same allegations are being made about the VA outpatient clinic in Fort Collins, Colorado.
So while the best of the best VA employees are doing everything they can to ensure that veterans get the best medical care possible, the worst of the worst VA employees are doing everything they can to hide the long waiting times at the VA’s clinics instead of working to improve things.
Two weeks ago, Representative Jeff Miller (R, FL), who is the Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, “called for a complete and thorough inspector general investigation into delays in VA care – in Phoenix and department wide.”
Miller said, “The growing pattern of preventable veteran deaths and patient safety incidents at VA medical centers across the country that are united by one common theme: VA’s extreme reluctance to hold its employees and executives accountable.”
He also cited, “recent VA preventable deaths linked to mismanagement – in Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Columbia, S.C., Augusta, Ga., and Memphis, Tenn.”
Today, Senator Bernie Sanders (I, VT), chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, said that a Senate panel will hold a hearing on allegations of patient neglect at a Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Phoenix after the VA inspector general completes an independent investigation.
In a letter to Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Sanders (I-Vt.) said he shares their concern about serious allegations involving the VA hospital in Phoenix.
The VA handles nearly 100 million medical and mental health appointments annually at 151 VA hospitals and 820 VA outpatient clinics.