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Minneapolis VA Hospital allegedly falsified records

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KARE11 News is reporting that 2 whistleblowers have stepped forward to report that records were allegedly falsified at the Minneapolis VA Medical Center:

Employees at the Minneapolis VA Medical Center were pressured to falsify patient appointment dates and medical records in order to hide serious delays, potentially comprising the health of veterans, according to former employees, internal emails and a complaint filed to the VA's office of the Inspector General.

In some cases, the employees say they were instructed to falsify medical records by writing that patients had declined follow-up treatments when, in reality, they say the veterans had never been contacted.

Patient's lives may be at risk, they fear, because they say some cases involved suspected colon cancer.

If these claims are verified with documentation, some employees at the Minneapolis VA Medical Center will be in a difficult legal situation. Potentially, they could be facing civil litigation if any of these alleged patients died of colon cancer. Certainly, a wrongful death lawsuit would be justified in such situations.

It's possible these employees could face criminal charges for falsifying federal records, too.

In an exclusive interview, the women told KARE 11 investigative reporter A. J. Lagoe they were abruptly fired after trying to alert top VA administrators about the problems.

"I have family members that are veterans. They should know actually what's going on at the VA," Rossbach told KARE 11 reporter Lagoe.

"Do you think lives were being put at risk," Lagoe asked? "Yes, yes," both Rossbach and Alonso said.

If it can be verified that these women were fired when they attempted to report the alleged falsification of records, their superiors might be in serious legal trouble. If these whistleblowers were fired to hide the falsification of records, these women's supervisors might be prosecuted criminally for hindering a federal investigation.

"I caught one with bleeding 46 days with no action whatsoever," Alonso said.

To keep evidence of delays in Minneapolis out of VISTA , the VA's official electronic record tracking system, the women claim a supervisor ordered them to keep a secret patient waiting list.

"They had this list they kept that was kinda hidden," Rossbach told KARE 11.
"Just so it couldn't be audited. It wouldn't even be in the system at all," Alonso added.
"You were directly instructed to cook the books?" Lagoe asked.
"Yes," Alonso replied.

Minnesota's VA system, unlike other VAs across the nation, has had a pretty good reputation. If these allegations are verified, that reputation will be sullied.

Finally, if these records a) were falsified and b) were used to get administrators bonuses, then that's another potential criminal investigation. Potentially, that's a difficult legal challenge for the administrators.

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