VA audit finds 57,000 vets have been waiting for more than 3 months for care

The examination also uncovered difficulties in scheduling appointments and a culture in which employees were pressured to change data. Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson detailed a $300 million plan that would increase hours for VA medical staffers and fund contracts with private clinics to provide care to some veterans who cannot get into VA medical centers.

The New York Times: Audit Shows Extensive Medical Delays For Tens Of Thousands Of Veterans
More than 57,000 patients have been waiting more than three months for medical appointments at hospitals and clinics run by the Department of Veterans Affairs, and nearly 64,000 others have been enrolled in the system for a decade but have still not been seen by doctors despite their requests, according to a nationwide audit released Monday (Oppel, 6/9).

Los Angeles Times: New Audit Of VA Finds 3-Month Waits For Medical Appointments
The audit's results came as the inspector general announced at a House hearing that his office had widened its investigation to include 69 sites across the country where employees may have falsified records to conceal long waits for care. That number is in addition to the Phoenix VA, which was the epicenter of the scandal and the focus of an inspector general's investigation into whether patients died as a result of delays in care (Simon and Zarembo, 6/9).

The Wall Street Journal: Nearly 60,000 Veterans Face Delays Receiving Health Care-;VA Audit
During a nearly monthlong audit of 731 VA facilities and nearly 4,000 employees, the VA found widespread problems with appointment scheduling and pressure on employees to change data. More than 10% of scheduling staff were given instruction on how to alter patient appointment scheduling, according to the audit (Kesling, 6/9).

NPR: Audit Reveals Vast Scale Of VA Waitlist Issues
Before former Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki stepped down, he ordered an audit of the VA system, hoping to find how many hospitals were lying about wait times. The audit found that approximately 100,000 veterans are waiting too long for care at the VA (Lawrence, 6/9).

The Washington Post: VA Audit: 57,000 Veterans Waiting More Than 90 Days For Appointment At Medical Facilities
[Acting Director Sloan] Gibson -; who took over on May 30 after his predecessor, Eric K. Shinseki, resigned under pressure -; outlined a series of emergency measures Monday to ensure that veterans stuck on long waiting lists will receive care as quickly as possible in the coming days and weeks. The interim VA secretary said he would spend $300 million to increase hours for VA medical staffers and contract with private clinics to see veterans who are unable to get care through VA medical centers. Gibson also promised to institute new patient satisfaction surveys and said he had eliminated the 14-day scheduling goal for VA appointments, a measure that VA officials said was unrealistic and led to widespread cheating among hospital administrators whose bonuses were tied to hitting the mark (Jaffe and Hicks, 6/9).

McClatchy: Audit: 57,000 Vets Waiting More Than 3 Months To See Doctor
The first comprehensive review of the medical care system for veterans found widespread scheduling abuses, data falsification and long waiting times at dozens of hospitals and clinics across the country. In its audit of 731 medical facilities, the Department of Veterans Affairs reported Monday that 57,436 veterans have been waiting more than 90 days for an initial medical appointment. Thirteen percent of schedulers told VA auditors that supervisors or other co-workers had instructed them to enter a different date in the appointment system than the one requested by a veteran (Rosen, 6/9).

Politico: VA Report: Months-Long Waits For 57,000-Plus Vets
Since taking over for Shinseki, Acting Secretary Sloan Gibson has taken an aggressive posture, vowing to restore confidence in the beleaguered agency and punish VA officials who retaliated against whistleblowers. Gibson said the release of the audit reflected a commitment to transparency and showed the "extent of the systemic problems we face, problems that demand immediate actions" (Wheaton, 6/9).

The Wall Street Journal: VA Halted Visits To Troubled Hospitals
Starting in 2011, when the VA instituted a new system to track performance standards, five VA hospitals notched consistently poor scores on a range of critical-care outcomes, including mortality and infection rates. By the first quarter of this year, that bottom-performing group had expanded to at least seven hospitals, records show. During most of that time, VA senior management suspended a long-standing program that had sent teams of doctors and monitors to its worst-performing hospitals to try to improve them, agency doctors said (Burton, 6/9).

Los Angeles Times: Veterans Frustrated By Long Delays In Opening Of New VA Hospitals
It was a day of shiny shovels and high hopes on that hot August morning in 2009. Politicians and dignitaries beamed at the cameras and congratulated themselves for finally breaking ground on a new medical facility dedicated to veterans, at the time projected to be the largest of its kind in the nation. … Nearly five years later, the project is still less than half finished even though work is continuing. The expected cost has risen to $1 billion, and the earliest patients will be seen is 2017 -; if then. New VA hospitals in New Orleans, Las Vegas and suburban Orlando, Fla., also face delays as long as five years and construction costs that have risen a total of $1.5 billion, according to a 2013 review by the General Accounting Office (Deam, 6/9).

http://www.kaiserhealthnews.orgThis article was reprinted from with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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