“The problems at the VA are worse than anyone imagined,” Mr. Coburn said. “Over the past decade, more than 1,000 veterans may have died as a result of VA’s misconduct and the VA has paid out nearly $1 billion to veterans and their families for its medical malpractice.”
The problems at Veterans Affairs extend well beyond long wait lists, with a report Tuesday showing the department is plagued with poor care that has cost up to 1,000 veterans their lives and left taxpayers on the hook for nearly $1 billion in malpractice settlements since the beginning of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some of the problems detailed in the report by Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma are downright ghoulish. They include the case of a former security chief at a New York Veterans Affairs medical center whom the FBI arrested on charges of plotting to kidnap, rape and murder women and children.
More standard is the nightmarish bureaucratic bungling that shows a department in disarray and a culture more concerned with punishing whistleblowers than with fixing the problems they pointed out, said Mr. Coburn,
But Mr. Coburn traced the problem to bad management and lax working standards, not to lack of money. In one finding, he said VA doctors average about half the workload that private-practice primary care physicians do, suggesting there is room for them to take more patients.
Among his other findings:
• Female patients received unnecessary pelvic and breast exams from a sex offender.
• Delays are endemic. In addition to care waiting lists, the VA is behind on processing disability claims and constructing facilities.
• Some VA health care providers have lost their medical licenses, but the VA hides that information from patients.
• The federal government has paid out $845 million for VA medical malpractice settlements since 2001.
The other unidentified patient, although he was classified as 100 percent mentally disabled due to his military service, had only a single “psychiatric note” placed in his medical file between 2005 and 2013.
Records of dead veterans were changed or physically altered, some even in recent weeks, to hide how many people died while waiting for care at the Phoenix VA hospital, a whistle-blower told CNNPosted by Jill Fallon at June 24, 2014 3:19 PM | Permalink