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VA health system: a case of ineptitude or criminal negligence

Complexity defines the system that delivers health care to nearly nine million veterans a year in 1700 facilities (hospitals, outpatient clinics, nursing homes and consulting centers). Reportedly most veterans are satisfied with the access to care they receive, yet a sub-segment are not. Recent news from the Phoenix Arizona VA hospital is especially alarming. Dozens of deaths have been attributed to incompetent management at this site. Specifically, claims have surfaced in which patients had to wait months to years to obtain appointments. News sources further represent the existence of a secret waiting list which tried to hide these prolonged waiting times. Adding to the complications two suicides in the last six months may be attributed to the negligent and or delayed care at this facility. As the news spread of these disastrous outcomes from this locale the Obama Administration began its usual cycle of spin and denial. Four Star general Eric Shinseki has led the VA system since 2009. He noted before a Congressional committee his own disgust with the problems unraveling in Phoenix. New allegations of similar concerns have come to light in other jurisdictions to add to his problems. Instead of firing Shinseki for his inept mismanagement underlings’ heads are now rolling. Veteran Affairs Undersecretary Robert Petzel’s “resignation” has been accepted by Shinseki. He is the figurehead the Obama Administration has thrown under the proverbial bus as this scandal proceeds. (http://www.theledger.com/article/20140517/news/140519356?tc=ar) Will this maneuver satisfy those calling for the head of Shinseki, not likely. During the reign of Secretary Shinseki waiting times have been a signature representation of the problems he has had to confront. From the vantage point of many they have not been addressed. Yet General Shinseki holds on to a position that should be given to someone with extensive training in medicine and health facility management, not an inexperienced military icon. President Obama did not express an urgency in correcting the problems when he discussed this issue in today’s press conference. As usual he appeared detached when he cited his intentions of moving quickly to root out the causes of the mismanagement brought to his desk. http://www.humanevents.com/2014/05/21/obama-delivers-his-standard-damage...

Management of VA health facilities provides a glimpse how government’s ineptitude brings about horrific outcomes. Shinseki’s management style, through edicts from Washington, has failed miserably. Patchwork changes will not correct the Obamacare nightmare neither will it effectuate change at the VA. Deep consideration should be given to an overhaul of this system, a minor tune up will not provide the corrections needed. Reports from other Veteran’s facilities are trickling in noting incompetent scheduling of appointments to the quality of physician care. Obviously more stories of disasters are on the horizon. Obama’s reluctance to ask for General Shinseki’s resignation is a sign the status quo will be maintained. Perhaps the Congress, initiating its work in 2015, will effectuate changes that an ineffective Executive Branch is unwilling and or unable to do. The scent of criminal negligence becomes more intense with each new batch of allegations reported. Change in leadership is a high priority. General Shinseki needs to reconsider and tender his resignation. It would be the honorable thing for him to do. http://blogs.phoenixnewtimes.com/valleyfever/2014/04/veteran_suicide_pho...

Mark Davis, MD President of Healthnets Review Services and Davis Book Reviews, Dr. Davis’ latest book is Obamacare: Dead on Arrival, A Prescription for Disaster. platomd@gmail.com