After Being Kept Off Appointment List, 18 More Veterans Die In Phoenix Area

June 6, 2014 - 9:40 AM

The scandal surrounding Veterans Affairs (VA) just got more tragic.  Eighteen additional veterans - whose names were kept off appointment lists - have died in the Phoenix area (via CBS News:)

An additional 18 veterans in the Phoenix area whose names were kept off an official electronic Veterans Affairs appointment list have died, the agency's acting secretary said Thursday - the latest revelation in a growing scandal over long patient waits for care and falsified records covering up the delays at VA hospitals and clinics nationwide.

Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson said he does not know whether the 18 new deaths were related to long waiting times for appointments but said they were in addition to the 17 reported last month by the VA's inspector general. The announcement of the deaths came as senior senators reached agreement Thursday on the framework for a bipartisan bill making it easier for veterans to get health care outside VA hospitals and clinics.

The 18 veterans who died were among 1,700 veterans identified in a report last week by the VA's inspector general as being "at risk of being lost or forgotten."

The internal VA audit found that 62% of all its health facilities had at least one instance of veterans being pushed onto secret wait lists because their conditions couldn't be treated within a 14-day period; the agency's performance target.

But, that's not all. The Washington Examiner reported yesterday that whistleblowers from across the country are reporting on the nightmare conditions within these facilities ranging from doctors not responding to emergency codes to improper stocking of critical equipment that led to one patient dying from choking on his own vomit:

A whistleblower in Arkansas reported a patient choked on his own vomit and died the next day because emergency equipment was not properly stocked at the Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Little Rock.

Another whistleblower said a patient died from a heart attack at a veterans' hospital in Maine after the on-duty doctor failed respond to an emergency code, delaying proper treatment for more than two hours.

In Jackson, Miss., seven whistleblowers came forward with allegations that patients' health was jeopardized by filthy conditions and unread imaging tests like X-rays.

Other practices in Jackson included scheduling patients to see doctors in fictional "ghost" clinics or double booking appointment times, which often resulted in the veteran going unseen.

It got so bad at the Jackson hospital that the Drug Enforcement Administration suspended prescription-writing authority for some of the staff at the facility.

...

Those are just some of the allegations raised in 20 whistleblower complaints against the veterans' agency published since last year by the U.S. Office of Special Counsel.

H/T (Hot Air)