Hey Doc, what did you do before you became a psychiatrist for the VA? Oh…you were an officer in the Soviet military? Do you think the White House should require the VA to do something about this?

Hey Doc, what did you do before you became a psychiatrist for the VA?

As I have received some comments that my claim that the VA employs former Soviet Officers is baseless, and is completely without merit, and that I am crazy for saying such things here are some quotes form the deposition of the  VA doctor in question, Iv’e omitted the name of the medical school that he attended because that would make it too easy to figure out which VA hospital I’m referring to:

………You went to medical school in —

A. I went to medical school in Russia. And where did you go?

A. The name is ———————————
Q. And could you tell me, when did you graduate from —————–
A. June, 1991.
Q. And how long is medical school or was medical school in Russia at that time?
A. Six years.
Q. And after you graduated from medical school in Russia, what did you do?
A. I did my — I did my residency in OB-GYN and after that I practiced as an OB-GYN.
Q. You practiced as an OB-GYN physician for how long?
A. 1990 till 1992.
Q. When you went to medical school in Russia, was it necessary for you to have any level of military service or governmental service obligation as a result of that education?
A. As a part of our education we went to we studied military medicine and also while in medical school we went to a special summer camp for two months and when I graduated I received I was lieutenant medical something. I had the rank of lieutenant.
Q. And was that in the Soviet Army, Navy?
A. Lieutenant of the Reserve…….

 

If we reach our goal of 100,000 signatures, I will release the name of one physician who is currently employed by the VA who was an officer in the Soviet Army, who is currently treating veterans. Remember you saw it first here.

W. Robb Graham

If you think that this is wrong please sign our White House Petition:

White House Petition

Which VA Medical Center currently employs a former Soviet military officer to treat veterans with mental health issues? Do you really believe that cold war era veterans can relate to a former Soviet officer? More about this and other medical malpractice at the Department of Veterans Affairs and lawuits againsinst the VA and lawyers & attorneys who represent veterans withe medical malpractice tort claims at VAmalpractice.info

Which VA Medical Center currently employs a former Soviet military officer to treat veterans with mental health issues? Do you really believe that cold war era veterans can relate to a former Soviet officer?

Sign our petition to require the VA to stop using former Soviet Officers to treat our veterans!

Sign our White House  petition to require the VA to stop using former Soviet Officers to treat our veterans!

Which VA Medical Center currently employs a former Soviet military officer to treat veterans with mental health issues? Do you really believe that cold war era veterans can relate to a former Soviet officer? More about this and other medical malpractice at the Department of Veterans Affairs and lawuits againsinst the VA and lawyers & attorneys who represent veterans withe medical malpractice tort claims at VAmalpractice.info

Which VA Medical Center currently employs a former Soviet military officer to treat veterans with mental health issues? Do you really believe that cold war era veterans can relate to a former Soviet officer?

The VA should be required to fire all former Soviet Officers, who are physicians!

As shocking as this sounds, the VA currently employs physicians who are former Soviet officers to treat veterans.

It is inappropriate for veterans to be treated by former Soviet officers, particularly, if the physician does not disclose his prior status, it is particularly offinsive, when Cold War era veterans recieve psychiatric treatment from a former Soviet officer who may lack the basic understanding of our culture necessary to treat our veterans’ mental illnesses.

The VA should be required to fire these former soviet officers, or at a minimum require them to disclose their former Soviet military status so that veterans may chose whether they want to recieve treatment from another medical provider.

 

If we reach our goal of 100,000 signatures, I will release the name of one physician who is currently employed by the VA who was an officer in the Soviet Army, who is currenty treating veterans. Remember you saw it first here.

W. Robb Graham

Sign our petition to require the VA to stop using former Soviet Officers to treat our veterans!

Veterans dying because of health care delays

Veterans dying because of health care delays – CNN.com

Veterans dying because of health care delays - CNN.com

(CNN) — U.S. veterans are dying because of delays in diagnosis and treatment at VA hospitals.

At least 19 veterans have died because of delays in simple medical screenings like colonoscopies or endoscopies, at various VA hospitals or clinics, CNN has learned.

That’s according to an internal document from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, obtained exclusively by CNN, that deals with patients diagnosed with cancer in 2010 and 2011.

Hospital delays are killing war vets

The veterans were part of 82 vets who have died or are dying or have suffered serious injuries as a result of delayed diagnosis or treatment for colonoscopies or endoscopies.

Barry Coates is one of the veterans who has suffered from a delay in care. Coates was having excruciating pain and rectal bleeding in 2011. For a year the Army veteran went to several VA clinics and hospitals in South Carolina, trying to get help. But the VA’s diagnosis was hemorrhoids, and aside from simple pain medication he was told he might need a colonoscopy.

Congress demands answers on VA deaths

“The problem was getting worse and I was having more pain,” Coates said, talking about one specific VA doctor who he saw every few months. “She again examined me and gave me some prescriptions for other things as far as pain and stuff like that and I noticed again she made another comment — ‘may need colonoscopy.’

“I told her that something needed to be done,” said Coates. “But nothing was ever set up … a consult was never set up.”

“I had already been in pain and suffering from this problem for over six months and it wasn’t getting better,” Coates said. “I told her that if you were in as much pain as I was and had been going through you wouldn’t wait another two months to see what’s going on. You would probably do it this week.”

Coates waited months, even begging for an appointment to have his colonoscopy. But he only found himself on a growing list of veterans also waiting for appointments and procedures. He was finally told he could have a colonoscopy, many months later.

“I took it upon my own self to call the department that scheduled that and ask them about it. And they said this was the earliest appointment that I could get. And I explained to the lady what I had already been through and how much pain I had, and I said if I wait this long there might not be … (anything) we can do about it then. I could be even dead by then. And the only thing she could tell me was ‘I understand that, sir, but I don’t have any control over that.’ ”

Finally about a year after first complaining to his doctors of the pain, Coates got a colonoscopy and doctors discovered a cancerous tumor the size of a baseball.

The now 44-year-old veteran is undergoing chemotherapy in an effort to save his life.

It is unclear whether anyone responsible at the VA has been fired, demoted or even admonished for the delays in care and treatment. Some of the people responsible may have even received bonuses in recent years for their work, despite the delays in care or treatment for the veterans.

According to the document obtained by CNN, 10 veterans are confirmed to have died in the South Carolina and Georgia region alone. And the document shows 29 vets or their families were sent the disclosures, notifying them they had serious “adverse events” because of delayed care. And according to the document the problems go far beyond Georgia or South Carolina.

In the Florida region, five veterans are dead, and 14 vets or their families were sent the disclosures, notified that they suffered “adverse events” because of delayed or denied care or diagnosis, according to the exclusive document.

In the Rocky Mountain region, two veterans died, and four families were sent the disclosures or notified. In the Texas region, seven vets or their families were sent disclosures about adverse events and serious injuries suffered because of delayed care.

Coates filed a legal claim, citing the “failure of the Columbia (South Carolina) VA Medical Center to timely diagnose his rectal cancer.” The VA settled, but admitted no wrong-doing.

“I don’t know what my outcome is going to be,” said Coates.

“I just try to live every day like it’s my last day.”

The new document obtained by CNN shows a worse problem than has previously been made public by the VA.

As CNN has previously reported, as many as 7,000 veterans were on a backlog list — waiting too long for colonscopies or endoscopies — at VA facilities in Columbia, South Carolina and Augusta, Georgia.

After CNN’s detailed accounting of dela-related deaths at the Columbia and Augusta VA hospitals, a bi-partisan group of Congressmen visited the hospitals, demanding answers.

“We have a duty to make sure that the veterans who serve get the best health care possible,” said Rep. John Barrow, D-Georgia. “And it is very obvious that for too long and for too many folks that hasn’t happened.”

The VA said the backlog at those two hospitals has been solved, but that is not a good enough explanation for Rep. Jeff Miller, the chair of the House Veterans Affairs Committee.

“The fact that we’ve had veterans who have died in the very facilities that are supposed to be taking care of them, and not by natural means, by means that could have been prevented is egregious,” said Miller, R-Florida. “And it’s not acceptable.”

Miller said the VA, from the top down, has consistently ignored his committee’s requests to find out who is responsible. Even with the delays in care which have led to deaths and serious injuries, the congressman said not a single person has been fired or even demoted, and in fact some of those responsible may have even gotten bonuses.

“I grieve for the families who lost loved ones that could have been with them this Christmas that would be celebrating 2014 today had the backlog not existed,” said Miller. “That’s not what anybody in this country wants for our veterans.”

He said the lack of accountability is what angers him most.

“That’s why we asked the question again today, with members of the South Carolina delegation and Georgia delegation, tell us exactly who was disciplined and how. I don’t want to hear the excuse anymore that ‘It was multi-faceted. …There were many people involved’ ” said Miller.

“Well if there were many people involved then they all need to go. We are not asking for one particular person, we want to know exactly why things happened and who was held responsible, At this point publicly, we haven’t seen anybody held responsible.”

CNN has made repeated requests for interviews with top officials at the VA, including President Obama’s appointed head of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Secretary Eric Shinseki. The requests have all been denied, or ignored.

The VA did issue a written statement from Dr. Robert Petzel, the Under Secretary for Health at the department of Veterans Affairs. In the statement, Petzel wrote that “The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) cares deeply for every Veteran we are privileged to serve. Our goal is to provide the best quality, safe and effective health care our Veterans have earned and deserve. We take seriously any issue that occurs at any one of the more than 1,700 VA health care facilities across the country.”

He also stated: “As a result of the consult delay issue VA discovered at two of our medical centers, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) conducted a national review of consults across the system. We have redesigned the consult process to better monitor consult timeliness. We continue to take action to strengthen oversight mechanisms and prevent a similar delay at another VA medical center. We take any issue of this nature extremely seriously and offer our sincerest condolences to families and individuals who have been affected and lost a loved one.”

In August 2007, presidential candidate Barack Obama gave a campaign speech to veterans specifically addressing wait lists, denied care and poor treatment of vets. He promised his administration would be different.

“No veteran should have to fill out a 23-page claim to get care, or wait months — even years — to get an appointment at the VA,” said then-candidate Obama.

“When we fail to keep faith with our veterans, the bond between our nation and our nation’s heroes becomes frayed. When a veteran is denied care, we are all dishonored.”

But Coates said for him the speech is an empty promise.

“Someone needs to stand and face the person who suffered and the veterans who have died and say, ‘Hey it was me, I let the ball drop,’ ” he said.

“How many lives are we going to lose from this?”

“When is it going to be corrected?”

via Veterans dying because of health care delays – CNN.com.

Some Veterans’ Hospitals in Shocking Shape – ABC News

Some Veterans’ Hospitals in Shocking Shape – ABC News.

Fourteen years ago, an ABCNEWS hidden-camera investigation ignited a firestorm about conditions and competence inside Veterans Administration hospitals.

Recently, there have been new stories of misdiagnosis, disastrous management and deficient care at some of the nation’s 162 facilities.

At a hospital near Cleveland, an ABCNEWS hidden-camera investigation found bathrooms filthy with what appeared to be human excrement. Supply cabinets were in disarray, with dirty linens from some patients mixed in with clean supplies, or left in hallways on gurneys.

At a neighboring facility, examining tables had dried blood and medications still on them. In several areas, open bio-hazardous waste cans were spilling over. Primetime obtained internal memos documenting that the equipment used to sterilize surgical instruments had broken down — causing surgical delays and possible infection risks.

With 130,000 young American men and women putting their lives at risk in Iraq today, these conditions are particularly relevant. While current soldiers are treated in military hospitals, when they leave the service and need treatment, many will seek care at Veterans Affairs (as the Veterans Administration is now known) hospitals.

“Once you come back to be a veteran, it’s like a black hole, you know — nothing,” former Army Sgt. Vannessa Turner told ABCNEWS.

Turner was stricken with a mysterious illness while on duty in Iraq this past year. She retired from the military on medical grounds, and when she reported to a VA hospital for treatment, doctors scheduled her for an appointment six months later.

Not a Point of Pride

Veterans who responded to a survey by the American Legion in 2003 said it took an average of seven months to get a first appointment at a VA hospital. In some hospitals, patients have waited as long as two years.

In 1999, Jack Christensen, a former army sergeant who served in the Korean War, was admitted to the VA hospital in Temple, Texas, with pneumonia, and ended up staying three years.

Christensen’s wife, Pat, says the attitude of some of the practical nurses was shocking. Some of the patients were forced to beg for food and water, she says. Instead of helping her husband go to the bathroom, she said, “they would put a towel under his hips and tell him to use the towel.”

Pat Christensen said her husband’s condition worsened over several months — so badly that at one point he developed horrific bedsores and dangerous infections, and she says his doctors said they would have to amputate his legs.

Pat moved her husband to a private facility, where his infection healed and he underwent extensive physical therapy. She sued the VA, and then used the money to pay for private care for her husband. The VA denied liability but paid a settlement.

Dr. Jonathan Perlin, the deputy undersecretary for health, said the VA system has sophisticated quality control. But when he was shown ABCNEWS’ hidden-camera video of hallways and supply closets in disarray, he said, “This is something we’re not proud of.”

Fundamental Problems

Critics have long charged that the VA system puts patients on a kind of assembly line, passing them from doctor to doctor.

There’s also criticism of how the VA uses residents — doctors still training and not certified in their specialties.

Terry Soles served in the Navy during the Vietnam War. His wife, Denise, says he was one casualty of this practice. In 1998, he went to the VA hospital in Cleveland complaining of pain and diarrhea, and doctors removed small cancerous growths from his stomach and esophagus.

But as his symptoms persisted over the next two years, his wife says the VA gave him painful tests and repeatedly lost the results. His wife says Soles was seen by a parade of constantly rotating resident doctors, and there was little consistency in his care.

Once, Soles was prepped for surgery but before the operation the doctors who were present couldn’t agree on what they were going to do, she said.

Before he got sick, the 6-foot Soles weighed more than 200 pounds. By the time his family finally decided to take him to a private hospital, he weighed 80 pounds. Some VA doctors thought his problem was psychosomatic.

When he could no longer recognize his own son, Soles was rushed to a private hospital. There, Soles learned he was “a total mass of cancer from his trachea to his renal bowel. And that there was nothing that could be done,” his wife says. Terry Soles died three days later.

The VA’s Perlin said the Soles story was tragic, but added: “However, that is not the experience of most of the veterans who come to us for care. … We take care of 7 million veterans. While the majority of care is good, in a big system, bad things happen.”

Whose Fault?

Critics charge that one of the big problems facing the VA is that too much money goes toward administration, at the cost of nursing and patient care.

Dean Billik, the former director of the VA in Charleston, S.C., is brought up as an example.

In 1996, he was denounced for allegedly spending about $200,000 in taxpayer money to redecorate his office; $1.5 million to renovate a nursing home unit that stayed empty for two years; and tens of thousands of dollars for a fish tank in the lobby — while there were budget shortfalls and staff cutbacks were contemplated.

Congress heard testimony claiming Billik was “blatant in his mismanagement,” and an inspector general’s report confirmed several of the numerous allegations against him.

But after everything was brought to light, Billik still got a bigger job: He was put in charge of the third-largest hospital system in the VA, encompassing eight cities, 295 acres of land and 83 buildings. And his salary immediately jumped about $15,000.

Primetime obtained budget information on the central Texas VA system for Billik’s six-year tenure at the top. It confirms that Billik cut spending $2 million for the people in direct patient care — nurses aides and practical nurses.

Other documents obtained by Primetime show that $129 million was spent on construction at three of six facilities in Temple, Texas.

One source says Billik spent $1.8 million renovating a building at Temple for his own offices — after it had been renovated for patient care.

Furthermore, Nancy Kelsey, who was a nurse at one of the Temple facilities under Billik’s supervision, says the way some of the staff treated patients was alarming. She says IVs ran out, patients were neglected and dressings weren’t changed.

Melba Bell, whose husband, Ed, served in Korea, said the staff was often idle and it would often take hours to get help. Other families said that if patients or their families persisted in asking for help, some of the staff retaliated.

At one point, Bell’s infection got so bad that the hospital used maggots to try to eat away the decay. That’s not unusual treatment, but what happened afterward was.

“The dressing that they had on there was real poorly done,” said Bell’s granddaughter, Chesney Shirmer. “Some of the maggots got out and they were in the bed with him, you know? He could feel them in the bed.”

Ed Bell died of gangrene in the VA hospital in 2002.

One More Problem

When confronted with these details, Perlin said he shared the outrage and promised to look into fixing these things.

But there is one more problem. Many whistle-blowers and critics say if you try to expose the truth, VA managers don’t want to hear it.

Charles Steinert, who worked for Billik in Charleston, says he felt pressure to leave after he complained about some of the building projects and how he was being treated by supervisors.

Nurse Melissa Craven, who also worked at the Charleston VA, says she suffered retribution for two years after she spoke out about some of her supervisors.

Perlin said it is easy for patients and their loved ones to lodge complaints about VA care. “That’s important to us, because if there are concerns, we want to address them,” he said.

But many patients and their loved ones told ABCNEWS that wasn’t their experience — and even worse, many of the families are afraid to speak out.

“They’re afraid to say what really goes on, because they’re afraid any little benefits that they have are going to be taken away from them,” said Denise Soles.

Improvement Efforts

The day after Primetime presented its findings to the VA’s Perlin, he ordered inspections of the facilities Primetime investigated.

They found a number of problems at the Temple, Texas, VA, including poor hygiene, insufficient staffing and low satisfaction among patients and their families.

The VA announced it would bring in new supervisors, reassign some personnel, train others, and begin recruiting additional staff.

Inspectors who went to the VA in Cleveland said it was in good condition. However, after their visit, Primetime received phone calls from several sources saying that the hospital had advance warning of the so-called surprise inspection.

And to those patients who accuse the VA of assembly-line care — that patients go through a succession of doctors — a public relations officer for the VA said it tries to ensure continuity of care, but that may not always be possible.

As for Dean Billik, he has now retired. In a phone conversation on Wednesday, he said he disagreed with the VA inspectors, saying their report was “an opinion.”

Billik said he relied on his staff to supervise nursing and recommend budgets, and if he had renovated some buildings that then were closed it was because he didn’t possess 20/20 hindsight and made the best decisions at the time.

Rep. Ted Strickland, a member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, called for the White House and Congress to approve enough money to ensure that veterans get the care they deserve.

It’s a “situation that’s crying out for change,” the Ohio Democrat said after viewing Primetime’s tapes.

Veterans and their families agree they deserve better. “They were good enough to go fight for their country,” said Melba Bell. “They deserve to have the best treatment that they could get.”

Denise Soles says that before her husband died he asked just one thing of her: to speak out.

She said Terry Soles told her, “If we can help one other veteran from going through the hell … That’s what we have to do.”

Veterans dying because of treatment delays at VA hospitals, document says | Fox News

The Department of Veterans Affairs has linked the recent deaths of at least 19 vets diagnosed with cancer in 2010 and 2011 to appointment backlogs and delays at VA hospitals and clinics and resulting hindrances in care, according to an internal document.

Specifically, those 19 deceased veterans are reportedly part of a larger group of 82 vets who have either died, are now dying or have sustained serious health consequences from the VA’s failure to conduct medical screenings like colonoscopies and endoscopies in a timely, or prompt, fashion.

CNN reported as much after obtaining an internal U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs document revealing the appointment backlogs – and potentially lethal repercussions – is national in scope.

“The fact that we’ve had veterans who have died in the very facilities that are supposed to be taking care of them, and not by natural means, by means that could have been prevented is egregious,” Rep. Jeff Miller, the chair of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, told CNN. “And it’s not acceptable.”

The Florida Republican reportedly added the VA has not only thus-far failed to the name those responsible for the deaths and injuries, but also refused to internally discipline or fire anyone regarding the problem.

“I don’t want to hear the excuse anymore that ‘It was multi-faceted. …There were many people involved’ ” Miller told the news agency. “If there were many people involved then they all need to go.

“We are not asking for one particular person, we want to know exactly why things happened and who was held responsible. At this point publicly, we haven’t seen anybody held responsible.”

One South Carolina veteran described to CNN how he had begged his local VA hospitals for months for a colonoscopy appointment after suffering painful rectal bleeding in 2011.

“I took it upon my own self to call the department that scheduled that and ask them about it. And they said this was the earliest appointment that I could get,” Barry Coates, a 44-year-old Army veteran, told CNN about the appointment he finally received–set for roughly a year after he first saw a doctor about the symptoms.

“And I explained to the lady what I had already been through and how much pain I had, and I said if I wait this long there might not be … (anything) we can do about it then. I could be even dead by then. And the only thing she could tell me was ‘I understand that, sir, but I don’t have any control over that.'”

The VA noted scheduling delays previously reported to exist at its Augusta, Ga. and Columbia, S.C. hospitals sparked a national review that has since strengthened oversight and improved the system.

“As a result of the consult delay issue VA discovered at two of our medical centers, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) conducted a national review of consults across the system,” reportedly wrote Dr. Robert Petzel, the VA’s under secretary for health. We have redesigned the consult process to better monitor consult timeliness.

“We continue to take action to strengthen oversight mechanisms and prevent a similar delay at another VA medical center. We take any issue of this nature extremely seriously and offer our sincerest condolences to families and individuals who have been affected and lost a loved one.”

As for Coates, the colonoscopy he finally got reportedly revealed a baseball-sized cancerous tumor that now threatens his life – and for which he is now undergoing chemotherapy.

“I don’t know what my outcome is going to be,” Coates told CNN. “I just try to live every day like it’s my last day.”

via Veterans dying because of treatment delays at VA hospitals, document says | Fox News.

Veterans dying because of treatment delays at VA hospitals, document says | Fox News

The Department of Veterans Affairs has linked the recent deaths of at least 19 vets diagnosed with cancer in 2010 and 2011 to appointment backlogs and delays at VA hospitals and clinics and resulting hindrances in care, according to an internal document.

Specifically, those 19 deceased veterans are reportedly part of a larger group of 82 vets who have either died, are now dying or have sustained serious health consequences from the VA’s failure to conduct medical screenings like colonoscopies and endoscopies in a timely, or prompt, fashion.

CNN reported as much after obtaining an internal U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs document revealing the appointment backlogs – and potentially lethal repercussions – is national in scope.

“The fact that we’ve had veterans who have died in the very facilities that are supposed to be taking care of them, and not by natural means, by means that could have been prevented is egregious,” Rep. Jeff Miller, the chair of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, told CNN. “And it’s not acceptable.”

The Florida Republican reportedly added the VA has not only thus-far failed to the name those responsible for the deaths and injuries, but also refused to internally discipline or fire anyone regarding the problem.

“I don’t want to hear the excuse anymore that ‘It was multi-faceted. …There were many people involved’ ” Miller told the news agency. “If there were many people involved then they all need to go.

“We are not asking for one particular person, we want to know exactly why things happened and who was held responsible. At this point publicly, we haven’t seen anybody held responsible.”

One South Carolina veteran described to CNN how he had begged his local VA hospitals for months for a colonoscopy appointment after suffering painful rectal bleeding in 2011.

“I took it upon my own self to call the department that scheduled that and ask them about it. And they said this was the earliest appointment that I could get,” Barry Coates, a 44-year-old Army veteran, told CNN about the appointment he finally received–set for roughly a year after he first saw a doctor about the symptoms.

“And I explained to the lady what I had already been through and how much pain I had, and I said if I wait this long there might not be … (anything) we can do about it then. I could be even dead by then. And the only thing she could tell me was ‘I understand that, sir, but I don’t have any control over that.'”

The VA noted scheduling delays previously reported to exist at its Augusta, Ga. and Columbia, S.C. hospitals sparked a national review that has since strengthened oversight and improved the system.

“As a result of the consult delay issue VA discovered at two of our medical centers, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) conducted a national review of consults across the system,” reportedly wrote Dr. Robert Petzel, the VA’s under secretary for health. We have redesigned the consult process to better monitor consult timeliness.

“We continue to take action to strengthen oversight mechanisms and prevent a similar delay at another VA medical center. We take any issue of this nature extremely seriously and offer our sincerest condolences to families and individuals who have been affected and lost a loved one.”

As for Coates, the colonoscopy he finally got reportedly revealed a baseball-sized cancerous tumor that now threatens his life – and for which he is now undergoing chemotherapy.

“I don’t know what my outcome is going to be,” Coates told CNN. “I just try to live every day like it’s my last day.”

via Veterans dying because of treatment delays at VA hospitals, document says | Fox News.

Veterans Dying Due to VA System Delays « D Healthcare Daily

At least 19 veterans died between 2010 and 2011 because of delays in simple medical screenings at various VA hospitals or clinics, CNN reported.

The report is based on an internal document obtained by CNN, which shows that 82 vets have died, are dying, or have suffered serious injuries as a result of delayed diagnosis or treatment for colonoscopies or endoscopies.

Ten veterans are confirmed to have died in the South Carolina/Georgia region alone. In the Florida region, five veterans are dead, and 14 vets or their families were sent the disclosures notifying them that they suffered “adverse events” because of delayed or denied care or diagnosis.

In the Texas region, seven vets or their families were sent disclosures about adverse events and serious injuries suffered because of delayed care.

via Veterans Dying Due to VA System Delays « D Healthcare Daily.

12 OYS: Augusta VA tight-lipped about possible 4th death at facility

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via 12 OYS: Augusta VA tight-lipped about possible 4th death at facility.

In response to a News 12 request for information regarding whether the additional death occurred in Augusta, officials refused to confirm or deny in its issued statement.

“I have been treated fantastically. I’ve had one or two problems,” said Army Veteran Robert Taylor. He has volunteered with the VA for decades. He is also aware of the 3 deaths at the facility due to inadequate medical care. “If I was one of those 1 in 3 patients that did not get seen in time I would feel very angry,” said Taylor.

Now News 12 has obtained documentation that a fourth patient may have died at Charlie Norwood.

According to the report, that additional fatality occurred within one of the 9 facilities that make up the VA’s southeast network of medical centers. Norwood’s deaths stemmed from backlogs in cancer screenings.

“That’s serious. You can’t wait 3, 4 or 5 months to get something like that taken care of,” said Taylor. Air Force veteran Richard Johnson said he experienced those long delays. He sought treatment at a community hospital and is glad he did. “They did a colonoscopy and this time they found polyps and one was pre-cancer.”

Johnson said had he waited on the VA he may have ended up a statistic. News 12 reached out Augusta’s VA hospital about whether this additional death occurred here. Officials would not confirm or deny and declined to answer a list of questions. Instead, we received a statement that reads in part:

“based on preliminary findings from the initial system-wide review, VHA identified 29 patients in VISN 7 for whom institutional disclosures were provided or attempted, based on their gastrointestinal care, of the 29 patients, 10 have passed away”

News 12 asked Taylor if he had a gastrointestinal problem, would he be comfortable going to the Charlie Norwood facility. “I would make the appointment. In a reasonable amount of time (if nothing was addressed) I’d go out to Fort Gordon,” said Taylor.

Taylor added that he believed the Charlie Norwood facility was used to train several interim directors after former Director Rebecca Wiley was reassigned to Columbia’s Dorn VA Medical Center. He said that left no one accountable. Taylor also expressed criticism towards some media outlets reporting on the deaths and other issues at Charlie Norwood.

“The newspaper in this particular case, when the VA failed their accreditation, they put it on the front page in red, white and blue. When Mr. (Robert) Hamilton and his staff got them accredited, they put it on the back page of the want ads,” said Taylor.

Meanwhile Augusta’s VA was also tight-lipped about these additional questions we asked:

1. Which (Augusta) VA facilities were providing care to those who died
or were injured?

2. Were bonuses given to VA administrators at those hospitals?

3. Have any VA employees been held accountable for these preventable
deaths/injuries? (since the sight visit)

4. These (internal) documents appear to only reference deaths and
institutional disclosures related to delayed endoscopy procedures. Are
there problems with delays in care for other medical procedures aside
from endoscopy?

5. Are there any additional deaths/institutional disclosures related to
delays in care for other medical procedures aside from endoscopy?

6. Were any Georgia facilities providing care to those who died or were
injured?

However, in a lengthy prepared statement, the VA said:

“The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) cares deeply for every Veteran we are privileged to serve. Our goal is to provide the best quality, safe and effective health care our Veterans have earned and deserve. We take seriously any issue that occurs at any one of the more than 1,700 VA health care facilities across the country.”

“Any adverse incident for a Veteran within our care is one too many.
When an incident occurs in our system we aggressively identify, correct
and work to prevent additional risks. We conduct a thorough review to
understand what happened, prevent similar incidents in the future, and
share lessons learned across the system.”

“As a result of the consult delay issue VA discovered at two of our
medical centers, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) continues to
conduct a national review of consults across the system. We have
redesigned the consult process to better monitor consult timeliness. We
continue to take action to strengthen oversight mechanisms and prevent a similar delay at another VA medical center. We take any issue of this nature extremely seriously and offer our sincerest condolences to families and individuals who have been affected and lost a loved one.”

INFORMATION ON BACKGROUND:
In response to the findings at the William Jennings Bryan Dorn VA
Medical Center in Columbia, SC and the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center in Augusta, GA in 2012, VHA initiated a national review of consults across the VA health care system. VHA has developed processes and oversight mechanisms intended to prevent a similar occurrence at another VA medical center.

When an adverse event occurs, VHA contacts the patient or their
representative when the patient has either been harmed or may have been harmed during their care – this is known as an institutional disclosure. VHA’s first priority is to notify the patient or their representative of the adverse event, as well as the patient’s rights and recourse. VHA is committed to a process of full and open disclosure to Veterans and their families.

Based on preliminary findings from the initial system-wide review, VHA
identified 29 patients in VISN 7 for whom institutional disclosures were
provided or attempted, based on their gastrointestinal care. Of the 29
patients, 10 have passed away. Specifically, at the Wm. Jennings Bryan
Dorn VA Medical Center in Columbia, S.C. and the Charlie Norwood VA
Medical Center in Augusta, Ga., VA provided institutional disclosures to
27 patients based on their gastrointestinal care at those medical
centers. Of the 27 patients identified at those two medical centers, 9
patients have passed away. VHA is working aggressively to validate the
remaining VISN 7 findings from this initial review, and to confirm all
appropriate cases for institutional disclosures.

Last year VHA provided over 85 million total health care appointments
for patients. VHA also provided 25 million consults for patients last
year, which included approximately 1.3 million gastrointestinal (GI)
consults. As a result of the consult delay issue VA discovered at two
of our medical centers, VHA continues to conduct a national review of
consults across the system. This ongoing national level review includes
all consults over more than a ten-year period.

9 Investigates: The VA’s painkiller problem | www.wsoctv.com

SALISBURY, N.C. — Some veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have returned home to face another battle: addiction to prescription painkillers.

Veterans die from prescription-drug overdoses at nearly twice the national average.

Channel 9 anchor Peter Daut investigated whether they are being overmedicated and what VA hospitals are doing about it.

Spc. Christopher Pesta served one year in Iraq, but that is not where he died.

The 22-year-old was found unresponsive in his barracks at Fort Bragg just days before he planned to propose to his girlfriend.

According to the Army’s autopsy report, Pesta’s sudden death was “complicated by mixed drug toxicity.”

Pesta’s parents believe it was an accidental overdose.

Eight years later, they still have the painkillers the VA prescribed to him for a fractured tailbone.

“I gave them my son, thinking that they were going to take care of him even better than I would take care of him. And they didn’t,” Joan Pesta said.

Pesta’s parents said he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, and that he was getting treatment at the VA for alcohol abuse.

They believe that alone should have kept the agency from prescribing him a list of opioids and muscle relaxers.

“Because all the drugs they give him say, ‘Do not take with alcohol,’” said Bob Pesta.

According to the VA’s records, across the country veterans are being prescribed more painkillers than ever.

Since 9/11, VA prescriptions for four highly addictive painkillers surged by 270 percent, far outpacing the increase in patients.

And the overdose death rate for veterans is nearly double the general population.

“That’s a big problem,” said addiction specialist Worth Bolton.

Bolton trains social workers on how to treat returning soldiers struggling with addiction.

He believes VA doctors are overmedicating patients as they try to keep up with the need for more complex treatment.

“Part of it is they’re overworked and understaffed, and you just got to keep doing what you’re doing, because I’ve got more coming in the door that need it,” Bolton said.

Channel 9 dug through numbers for the Salisbury VA and found between 2001 and 2012, presciptions of painkillers more than quadrupled, with 83.5 prescriptions for every 100 patients.

The hospital’s pain management specialist said that increase reflects the toll on troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“We do have a problem,” said Salisbury VA pain management specialist Ripple Sekhon.  “Our veteran population is different from the general population. You know, they do have more pain.”

Salisbury VA officials said they are concerned by the data and have made policy changes to monitor patients more closely.

Higher doses of painkillers now require secondary approval, and a pain school was created to help veterans learn how to manage medications.

“We are taking steps to make sure, you know, we are doing things the right way,” Sekhon said.

Meanwhile, Christopher Pesta’s parents said they will continue to worry for the men and women who like their son, survived war only to battle addiction at home.

“There isn’t a day that doesn’t go by, I don’t think of him,” Joan Pesta said.

Channel 9 also reached out to the chairman of the House Committee on Veteran’s Affairs.

“Rising prescription rates are heart-wrenching proof that VA’s approach to pain management is failing and in need of an immediate overhaul,” said Rep. Jeff Miller.

To see more of an interactive map on the painkiller situation with veterans, click here.

via 9 Investigates: The VA’s painkiller problem | www.wsoctv.com.

VA hospital lax on surgery deaths: report – Washington Times

Key officials at a Veterans Affairs hospital in Kentucky never met to review patient records over what was behind an unusual number of deaths during surgery in the first half of 2013, federal investigators said.

Despite several deaths occurring during surgery between January and July 2013, the Surgical Committee at the Lexington VA Medical Center never met to investigate what happened, said the VA’s internal watchdog, the Inspector General, in a report released Monday.

“There was no evidence that any of the deaths were reviewed by the facility’s Surgical Committee,” investigators said.

Emma Metcalf, the director of the medical center, said the Surgical Committee began monthly meetings in October to review fatalities.

“We have already been actively working on improvements,” she said.

via VA hospital lax on surgery deaths: report – Washington Times.