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VA IG calls scheduling, wait list problems 'systemic'

May. 28, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
By ANDY MEDICI   |   Comments
White House Deputy Chief of Staff Rob Nabors is overseeing admiistration efforts to investigate scheduling and wait list isues at the VA. (MANDEL NGAN / AFP/Getty Images)

Inappropriate scheduling practices are systemic through the Veterans Administration and the agency must take action to stop it, according to a preliminary report released by the VA inspector general May 28.

The report is in response to allegations of VA hospitals falsifying waitlist data to improve statistics. A report by CNN showed at least 40 veterans died waiting for appointments at the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care system.

While the agency kept records showing appointment times for patients within two weeks it kept a “secret waiting list” of veterans — up to 1,600 — who waited months to see a doctor, according to the report.

The administration has temporarily assigned White House Deputy Chief of Staff Rob Nabors to the VA to oversee a department review of patient safety and appointment scheduling.

The preliminary report was in response to congressional calls for a more expansive investigation and are based off of reviews of hospital records, interviews with VA employees and with veterans. The VA is looking into practices in 42 hospitals, according to the report.

The report recommends that the VA:

■ Take immediate action to review and provide health care to 1,700 veterans the IG identified waiting for care who were not on any waiting list at all.

■ Review all existing wait lists at the Phoenix Health Care system to identify veterans at greatest risk because of delays in the delivery of health care.

■ Initiate a nationwide review of veterans on wait lists to ensure that they are seen in the appropriate time.

Lawmakers are increasingly calling on VA secretary Eric Shinseki to resign. House Armed Services Committee chairman Rep. Buck McKeon, R-Calif., as well as Dennis Ross, Fla., and Sen. John McCain have called upon Shinseki to step down in the wake of the allegations.

Robert Petzel, the under secretary for Health at the Veterans Affairs Department, already resigned under growing congressional pressure.

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