WASHINGTON — The VA Inspector General’s office announced today the final report addressing allegations of wrongful patient deaths, resource mismanagement and criminal misconduct at the Phoenix VA Health Care System.
Among its findings, the IG reported finding no conclusive evidence that delays in access to care caused the death of 40 veterans, as was alleged by a whistleblower in February. The report also includes 24 recommendations for immediate corrective action, which VA Secretary Robert McDonald has backed.
“We’re pleased Secretary McDonald will institute immediate and substantive changes,” said DAV Washington Headquarters Executive Director Garry J. Augustine. “We applaud the Secretary’s swift decisiveness and willingness to take corrective actions, and to maintain accountability going forward.”
The OIG did conclude veterans “frequently encountered obstacles when patients or their providers attempted to establish care, when they needed outpatient appointments after hospitalizations or emergency department visits, and when seeking care while traveling or temporarily living in Phoenix.” This includes 1,400 veterans waiting to receive primary care appointments who were logged on the Phoenix VA Health Care System Electronic Wait List as well as an additional 3,500 veterans who were included on unofficial wait lists. The IG reports these veterans were “at risk of never obtaining their requested or necessary appointments.”
“With the final results of the investigation in hand, VA leaders must now remain true to their pledge for action in holding those responsible fully accountable,” said Augustine. “Veterans were failed, without question, but it is time to move forward and begin strengthening the VA health care system and restoring the trust of its patients.”
Following the allegations at the Phoenix facility, the VA OIG opened investigations at 93 other sites in response to concerns of wait time manipulations. The IG is currently in coordination with the Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation to investigate these additional claims.
About DAV: DAV empowers veterans to lead high-quality lives with respect and dignity. It is dedicated to a single purpose: fulfilling our promises to the men and women who served. DAV does this by ensuring that veterans and their families can access the full range of benefits available to them; fighting for the interests of America’s injured heroes on Capitol Hill; and educating the public about the great sacrifices and needs of veterans transitioning back to civilian life. DAV, a non-profit organization with 1.2 million members, was founded in 1920 and chartered by the U. S. Congress in 1932. Learn more at www.dav.org.