Shinseki expects VA reports in 3 weeks, shakeup underway - KXXV-TV News Channel 25 - Central Texas News and Weather for Waco, Temple, Killeen |

Shinseki expects VA reports in 3 weeks, shakeup underway

WACO - Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki hopes to have a preliminary report within three weeks on treatment delays and falsified patient scheduling reports at VA facilities nationwide.

Shinseki testified before lawmakers on Capitol Hill Thursday, saying allegations of severe problems within the VA make him "mad as hell" and he promised action to fix any problems.

In fact, he told reporters a shakeup is already happening, "We have taken action against senior leaders."  he said some have already been fired or removed from the VA.

He has ordered face to face audits on 150 medical centers and 820 community outpatient clinics nationwide to determine how widespread problems are, and what they are.

The internal watchdog at the Department of Veterans Affairs says new complaints about long wait lists and falsified patient appointment reports have surfaced at VA facilities across the country. But Richard Griffin, the department's acting inspector general, says there's no proof so far that delays in treatment have caused any patient's death.
  But his report did note other confirmed problems, including:

  • a backlog of 3800 delayed appointments for colon cancer screening in Columbia, South Carolina that resulted in 280 patients diagnosed with malignancies, 52 of whom were associated with a delay in diagnosis and treatment
  • two veterans dying of narcotic drug overdoses while in VA clinics for mental health care, one in Miami from cocaine and heroin toxicity, the other in Decatur, Georgia
  • three deaths in the emergency department at the Memphis VAMC in Tennessee, including a patient who was administered a medication in spite of a documented drug allergy and he had a fatal reaction
  • 700 patients in Buffalo, NY and 260 more at Salisbury, N. Carolina being exposed to the risk of blood borne viral infections when insulin pens designed to be used one time with one patient were instead used on multiple patients.  That misuse in Buffalo went on for more than two years
The Inspector General's report concluded the unexpected deaths could have been avoided if the VA would focus first on its core mission to deliver quality health care.  It also recommended a review of the VA's organizational structure and business rules to determine if there are changes that would make the delivery of care the priority mission.

   Shinseki resisted calls from a Democratic senator to bring in the Justice Department and FBI for a criminal investigation since there's evidence of VA employees making potentially false statements to the federal government. Shinseki said he first wanted to see results of the audit and a report on the VA inspector general's office on its investigation of the Phoenix hospital.
   Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut said there appears to be ``evidence of a crime'' by some VA employees.

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