Watchdog Says Delays and Errors Persist at Phoenix VA Hospital
Nov 1, 2016
Northville, MI (Law Firm Newswire) November 1, 2016 – A Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) watchdog report released in October has revealed persistent problems at the Phoenix VA hospital.
The VA Office of Inspector General documented scheduling errors, canceled appointments, delays in care and other mismanagement issues at the Phoenix VA. Some veterans are forced to wait nearly a year for care, and others are dying while awaiting appointments. The problems have not been fixed since the scandal over patient wait times emerged at the facility more than two years ago.
“The fact is many of the original issues still remain at the Phoenix VA. The VA has failed to make significant progress in reducing wait times and improving access to care,” said Jim Fausone, a Michigan veterans attorney. “The mismanagement at the facility is putting the health of veterans at risk. A large-scale transformation is necessary to have any sort of lasting change.”
According to the report, Phoenix VA employees improperly canceled or delayed hundreds of specialty care consults. The inspector general said staff were confused about proper scheduling policies and procedures. In addition, they failed to contact patients and misplaced lab results. The oversights could have led to the death of at least one patient.
The Phoenix VA Health Care System was at the center of a nationwide scandal in 2014. Patient waiting lists were manipulated to conceal long delays in veterans’ care. Further investigations uncovered secret waiting lists across other VA hospitals. Various reforms to improve the troubled VA health care system have been launched since then.
However, the inspector general issued six reports over the past two years that have found continuing problems at the Phoenix medical center. As of July 2016, there are around 38,000 veterans waiting for appointments, lab tests, teleconferencing and other consults. That is 3,000 more than during the scandal.
VA officials responded by saying the Phoenix facility is understaffed as it has 39 vacancies. However, efforts are being made to boost staff training, implement compliance tools and use a new appointment management policy. In addition, the VA system is planning to outsource some of the consultations to private contractors in order to eliminate the backlog.
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