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VA Has Admitted 23 Veteran Deaths Linked to Delays in Care

May 23, 2014

Though the inspector general for the Veterans Administration has not yet officially attributed deaths at the Phoenix VA hospital to delays in care, a VA internal review found a link between 23 deaths and wait times at VA facilities.

"Delays in endoscopy screenings for potential gastrointestinal cancer in 76 veterans treated at Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals are linked to 23 deaths, most of them three to four years ago, according to the VA," USA Today reported last month. At a press conference on Wednesday, President Obama said, “it is important to recognize that the wait times generally … were folks who may have had chronic conditions, were seeking their next appointment, but may have already received service. It was not necessarily a situation where they were calling for emergency services.” But, the president added, “That does not excuse the fact that the wait times in general are too long in some facilities. And so what we have to do is find out what exactly happened.”

CNN has reported that the Phoenix VA hospital worked off two patient appointment lists. The "official" list shows that the VA was offering timely appointments within 14 to 30 days. But Dr. Sam Foote, who worked in the VA system for 24 years, described this as a “sham list.” The actual list – the secret list – had much longer waiting times, and records were manipulated so that they did not show when a veteran first requested an appointment.

The Weekly Standard says a VA report shows that delays occurred at 27 VA hospitals, with the worst record at the William Jennings Bryan Dorn veterans’ hospital in Columbia, S.C., where there were 20 cases of delays and six deaths.

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