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Sun May 18, 2014, 11:56 PM

Exclusive: V.A. Scandal Hits New Hospital

Source: Daily Beast

Veterans with serious heart conditions, gangrene, and even brain tumors waited months for care at the Albuquerque V.A. hospital, a whistleblowing doctor tells The Daily Beast.
Add Albuquerque, New Mexico to the growing list of VA hospitals accused of keeping secret waiting lists to hide delays for veterans seeking medical care. And it may already be too late to get to the truth and find out what harm, if any, was done to veterans there—VA officials are already destroying records to cover their tracks, a whistleblower inside the hospital tells The Daily Beast.

Last month, word broke that the Department of Veterans’ Affairs hospital in Phoenix kept a secret waiting list that allegedly led to dozens of preventable deaths. The VA’s inspector general was brought in to investigate the charges and hasn’t yet found any deaths in Phoenix linked to wait times, but his investigation is ongoing. Since then five other facilities have come under fire, leading to calls for VA Secretary Eric Shinseki to step down. And now there’s Albuquerque. The evidence for this new secret list may be hard to track down, however.

“The ‘secret wait list’ for patient appointments is being either moved or was destroyed after what happened in Phoenix,” according to a doctor who works at the Albuquerque VA and spoke exclusively with The Daily Beast. “Right now,” the doctor said, “there is an eight-month waiting list for patients to get ultrasounds of their hearts. Some patients have died before they got their studies. It is unknown why they died, some for cardiac reasons some for other reasons.”

There’s no proof yet that veterans died while waiting for treatment, like what allegedly happened in Phoenix. But the doctor says it’s quite possible that some veterans would still be alive if they hadn’t been pushed through a record-keeping trap door that buried their requests for medical care.

Read more: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/05/18/exclusive-v-a-scandal-hits-new-hospital.html

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Response to pbmus (Original post)

Mon May 19, 2014, 12:06 AM

1. Personal knowledge....

 

3 month wait to see neurologist at VA in Milwaukee...not an emergency situation though.

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Response to Leme (Reply #1)

Mon May 19, 2014, 02:46 AM

9. In Massachusetts, I was asked to wait over 3 months for an appointment about a skin cancer

diagnosis or, to be told that I did not have skin cancer, depite my primary care provider's suspicion that I might have it.

I hasten to add, this was at Massachusetts General Hospital, considered one of the best in thw world. And, while my health insurance was not perfect, it was about as close to perfect as it gets in this country. So, 3 months in a non emergency is not unusual for a specialist, even in the private sector and under ideal conditions.

On the other hand, I considered it an emergency because I thought I might damage myself with fear while I waited to see if I had skin cancer or not. (Fortunately, a brilliant and very experienced surgeon, who I had to see for an unrelated reason, assured me the new and very irregularly shaped brown spot was not cancerous, so I never bothered with the dermatologist. It's been 17 years and the surgeon seems to have been correct.)

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Response to pbmus (Original post)

Mon May 19, 2014, 12:40 AM

2. Albuquerque isn't even a very big city

How many veterans can they have? This is ridiculous.

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Response to Ash_F (Reply #2)

Mon May 19, 2014, 01:00 AM

4. distances are big out west

 

Looks like they probably treat vets from New Mexico, parts of Arizona and west Texas. There are smaller facilities also.

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Response to pbmus (Original post)

Mon May 19, 2014, 12:58 AM

3. This is not a wonderful example of a government run health system, unfortunately. n/t

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Response to pnwmom (Reply #3)

Mon May 19, 2014, 01:13 AM

5. If this is because of too many patients, not enough doctors, then it is congress's fault

for not funding the VA. Not saying that is what is going on for sure, but it looks like it.

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Response to Ash_F (Reply #5)

Mon May 19, 2014, 02:19 AM

7. Unfortunately, they'll use this as an example of why not to have universal healthcare.

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Response to pnwmom (Reply #3)

Mon May 19, 2014, 02:49 AM

10. Single payer is not a government run health system. It'a government-run health insurance.

Otherwise, seniors and the disabled would have been going to government operated hospitals for the last 40 years, instead of to the providers of their own choosing.

I say that, not for you, because I know you know better, but for a casual reader who might otherwise misunderstand your post and therefore take away the wrong message from it.

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Response to pbmus (Original post)

Mon May 19, 2014, 01:14 AM

6. I was outraged when Walter Reed was allowed to rot, and I'm outraged now.

Our veterans deserve better. Much better.

I have immense respect for what Gen. Shinseki tried to do during the Iraq war, but he's going to have to step down. I'll readily grant that it's not entirely his fault; he inherited a bad situation, and the VA is chronically underfunded. However, as they say in baseball, you don't fire the team -- you fire the manager. He has been VA head since 2009: he can't run from this 5+ years in. Once he's out, then you fire the Inspector General or whoever is in charge of oversight at the VA.

Jon Rymer is the current Inspector General at DoD. I would recommend him to replace Gen. Shinseki, as Acting Secretary. His first task would be a top-to-bottom review of current VA methods and practices, which he would be well-equipped to conduct.

Now that the ACA is law, I think it is a fair question to ask whether Vets would be better served by being given a policy/being given credit to select a policy, and receiving their care from local providers. I'm not saying they would or wouldn't be better off, but it's something we should discuss nationally, given that we now will be caring for Iraq and Afghanistan Vets for a generation.

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Response to pbmus (Original post)

Mon May 19, 2014, 02:29 AM

8. Odd that these stories are coming out

I always felt that the care I received at the Phoenix VA is the best I ever received and others mentioned they receive good care when someone was handing out some 'complain about the VA on facebook' cards.

Interesting.

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Response to pbmus (Original post)

Mon May 19, 2014, 04:20 AM

11. Not good for veterans or the country if it's true

This just gives the Republicans more talking points and reasons to start yet another congressional hearing. Of course that means less legislation and nothing getting done. It is becoming a fucked up cycle.

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Response to pbmus (Original post)

Mon May 19, 2014, 08:39 AM

12. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't the VA start going to hell under Bush?


It's been awhile and I'm a little foggy on this, but I seem to recall that there were a lot of cuts to the VA under Bush (in order to pay for his tax cuts). I'd imagine a lot of what's going on now is still fallout from those cuts.


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Response to groundloop (Reply #12)

Wed May 21, 2014, 10:40 AM

15. The last decrease in the VA budget was in 1994.

It has gone up every year since. No cuts.

https://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/RS22897.pdf

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Response to pbmus (Original post)

Mon May 19, 2014, 01:43 PM

13. So far, I'm being taken very good care of at the Kerrville VA in Texas.

The Kerrville VA is very underused, though. I don't know why more vets don't utilize it, especially vets from San Antonio. The Audie Murphy VA in San Antonio is so busy that parking is a nightmare. We always have to park at University Hospital next door and hoof it to Audie Murphy when I'm referred to it.

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Response to pbmus (Original post)

Wed May 21, 2014, 10:18 AM

14. My father receives excellent care at Fort Hamilton...

in Brooklyn. Since I'm with him on nearly every visit, I've seen it first hand. His very close friend, also a veteran of D-Day and The Battle of the Bulge, is always complaining that the care is sub-par.

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