All VA medical centers and community-based outpatient clinics will be included in the audit, said Craig Larson, a spokesman for the VA’s Chicago regional office of public affairs. More than 200 staff members from the Veterans Integrated Service Networks and Veterans Health Administration central office will conduct the systemwide audit of scheduling practices. However, members of the teams will be independent from the facility and network they are reviewing, Larson said.
The VA has developed materials, tools and training for the audit process, expected to take several weeks, and announced that corrective actions will be implemented for any locations not in compliance.
The review comes after media reports that patients died while waiting for treatment at a Phoenix veterans’ hospital where former employees claim there was a secret waiting list that concealed the delays. There have also been allegations of delays and falsified documents at other VA facilities.
In April, the VA distributed a fact sheet based on its own review of the timeliness of gastrointestinal cancer screenings and care across the system. At that time, the VA identified 76 patients requiring an institutional disclosure—a formal notification that the patient had been harmed or may have been harmed during care. Of those 76, the VA reported that 23 had died but did not directly attribute the deaths to the delays at any of the 13 facilities where they occurred.
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