Nine patients have died and dozens more became sicker than they were because of the substandard care they received at the troubled Marion (Ill.) VA Medical Center, according to two internal reports released by the Veterans Affairs Department.
But the death toll could be higher. The VAs medical inspectors office, which reviewed cases from fiscal 2006 and 2007, found that 10 other patient deaths may be linked to poor care, though it could not be determined if that was the official cause of death, the report states.
I am angered about the issues at Marion that are identified in these reports, said Michael Kussman, the VAs under secretary for health, in a written statement. "We sincerely apologize to those who have received poor care, to their loved ones, to the Marion community and to all veterans and their families.
Kussman said that the VA will begin to contact veterans and their families who are believed to have been harmed by surgical care at Marion over the past two years.
All told, the VAs inspector general and medical inspector each found instances where surgeons at Marion performed complex procedures they were not authorized to do. They also found a flawed credentialing process, according to the VA.
Both investigators found numerous instances of poor medical care at the 115-bed facility. The inspector generals report says the care of three patients who died following surgical procedures during fiscal 2007 had significant problems.
Those deaths and other administrative problems came to light after a comprehensive review of surgical services at the Marion facility. In November, federal lawmakers learned from VA officials that a preliminary internal review showed that about 17,000 physicians and independent practitioners out of about 56,000 practicing within the system triggered red flags under its electronic credentialing and privileging.
Lawmakers are set this week to hold hearings on the VAs overall systems for credentialing and doling out privileges to its medical staff.
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