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New OIG Report: Serious problems persist at the Tucson VA

Posted at 7:11 PM, Mar 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-15 13:41:31-04

Serious problems persist at the Tucson VA. That's a statement from Concerned Veterans of America just a day after a new federal report is released.

For more than a year, KGUN9 has investigated severe staffing shortages and unethical practices that have affected wait times and medical care.
The 50-page report is from the OIG -- the Office of Inspector General -- the same agency that's already confirmed deceptive practices over several years claimed by Tucson VA whistleblowers who've come forward to KGUN9.
A criminal investigation revealed a staff member stuffed 600 requests for urology appointments into a drawer, which stopped the appointment clock -- some up to a year. And the VA went so far as to place fake consults into medical records to meet performance measures.
The just released OIG report reveals some red flags that include:
  • Problems with scheduling routine primary care appointments 
  • High turnover of registered nurse
  • Continuity of care in mental health 
  • and urgent care appointments in primary and specialty care
According to the CVA, The report found that the OIG did not have "reasonable assurance" that employees there are trained to reduce and prevent disruptive behaviors, that providers safely transfer patients from the facility, and that patients with identified learning barriers receive accommodations to ensure medication counseling is understood. In addition to these employee-induced safety hazards, the assessment identified six other red flags impacting veterans' quality of care. 

The OIG conducted the review last year in October. 

Link to Tucson VA OIG Report

The report comes out the same week the House of Representatives will vote on the 2017 VA Accountability First Act. That's scheduled on Thursday. If it passes the House and Senate, it gives the VA increased flexibility to remove, demote or suspend any VA employee for poor performance or misconduct, including senior leadership.