The Veterans Affairs office in Phoenix is still failing to properly care for vets, a new inspector general report revealed. The Veterans Affairs OIG released a new report Tuesday that claimed that over 200 vets died while waiting for care at the Phoenix VA hospital, the same VA hospital that was at the center of the wait time scandal in 2014. Though the hospital was highly scrutinized for their improper practice of altering patient records to hide their lack of care and extremely long wait times, the reform measures put in place haven’t kept the facility from failing to provide care and appointments for Veterans in a timely manner.
The OIG reported that vets were still unable to get timely appointments at the Phoenix center despite two years worth of assessments to fix such problems. According to the report, 215 Veterans died during a period when they had an open specialist consultation appointment. The report also stated that at least one Veteran “never received an appointment for a cardiology exam that could have prompted further definitive testing and interventions that could have forestalled his death.”
In April 2015, the Veterans Health Administration sent experts to train and instruct 325 Phoenix employees on how to improve their methods of providing proper and timely care at the facility. The Inspector General said that despite the efforts, patients continued to see a delay in receiving their care because “staff were generally unclear about specific consult management procedures, and services varied in their procedures and consult management responsibilities.”
Republican Congressman Jeff Miller, Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, released a statement following the troubling news.
“More than two years after the Phoenix VA Health Care System became ground zero for VA’s wait-time scandal, many of its original problems remain, and this report is proof of that sad fact,” Miller stated. “Although the report’s extensive use of confusing bureaucratic parlance makes digesting the IG’s findings a tedious chore, it’s clear veterans are still dying while waiting for care, that delays may have contributed to the recent death of at least one veteran and the work environment in Phoenix is marred by confusion and dysfunction.”
“Unfortunately,” Miller Continued, “given that this report is largely devoid of clear lines of accountability to those responsible for Phoenix VAHCS’s current problems, it is unlikely these issues will be solved anytime soon.”