Download the AMN app for your mobile device today - FREE!

The 1,700 Vets The Phoenix VA Kept Off The Books Will Go ON NOW!

Carl T Hayden VA Medical Center, Phoenix AZ (VA Photo)
May 28, 2014

Over 1,700 veterans were kept off the official appointment system for a primary care appointment at the Phoenix VA hospital, the Department of Veterans Affairs Inspector General found (pdf). They were intentionally omitted as a matter of organizational policy so that administrators could receive performance bonuses.

VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, in a rare display of emotion, said via statement that the department would, “aggressively and fully implement the remaining OIG recommendations.”

“I am directing that the Phoenix VA Health Care System immediately triage each of the 1,700 Veterans identified by the OIG to bring them timely care,” Shinseki said.

Shinseki does not plan to take further personnel actions against hospital administrators.

“We are finding that inappropriate scheduling practices are a systemic problem nationwide,” they wrote.

According to Marine Corps Times,

“Since multiple lists we found were something other than the official electronic wait list, these additional lists may be the basis for allegations of creating ‘secret’ wait lists,” acting VA Inspector General Robert Griffin wrote.

Griffin’s report did not include information on his office’s investigation into whether the scheduling issues delayed diagnosis or care, or led to deaths.

He said the review needed to include a variety of records, such as VA and non-VA medical records, death certificates and autopsy results and his office has issued subpoenas where needed for the information.

For the initial investigation, the VA IG office reviewed a statistical sample of 226 appointments at Phoenix and found that the veterans waited an average of 115 days for their first primary care appointment, with 84 percent waiting more than 14 days.

VA national data showed these veterans waited on average 24 days for their first primary care appointment and only 43 percent waited more than 14 days.

“We are finding that inappropriate scheduling practices are a systemic problem nationwide,” they wrote.