The inspector general of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs released a preliminary report Wednesday that identified “serious conditions” at the Phoenix health care facility at the heart of the controversy and “systemic” issues throughout the country’s veterans’ care system.
“[W]e identified an additional 1,700 veterans who were waiting for a primary care appointment but were not on the [Electronic Wait List],” the report said. “Until that happens, the reported wait time for these veterans has not started. Most importantly, these veterans were and continue to be at risk of being forgotten or lost in Phoenix [Health Care System]’s convoluted scheduling process. As a result, these veterans may never obtain a requested or required clinical appointment.”
After initial reports of administrators at the Phoenix VA using a “secret waiting list” to cover up long wait times at the facility the agency launched an internal investigation. Congress has also been probing the VA and there has been mounting pressure from politicians for Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki to resign.
The VA inspector general’s report included a survey of more than 200 veterans that found they waited on average 115 days for their first primary care appointment at the Phoenix location. However, because of various “scheduling schemes,” employees have been able to falsely boost internal measures, the report found.
More importantly, the inspector general’s report claimed the “systemic” scheduling problems went far beyond the Phoenix facility.
“Our reviews at a growing number of VA medical facilities have thus far provided insight into the current extent of these inappropriate scheduling issues throughout the VA health care system and have confirmed that inappropriate scheduling practices are systemic throughout [Veterans Health Administration],” the report said.
While urging some caution until the final report is issued, the preliminary study nevertheless urged Shinseki to take “immediate action to review and provide appropriate health care to the 1,700 veterans” currently not on any of the wait list, among other recommendations.
View the full report below:
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