Officials at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston and other associated clinics altered records to make it appear as if hundreds of appointments cancelled by staff were really called off by patients, according to the VA’s Office of Inspector General. The federal audit found out these unethical changes were made to hide unacceptable wait times as VA hospitals around the country were under pressure for neglecting patients.
“As a result, VHA’s recorded wait times did not reflect the actual wait experienced by the veterans and the wait time remained unreliable and understated,” the report reads. Hospital records showed 223 appointments were falsely recorded as “patient cancellations” between July 2014 and June 2015. Of the 223 cancellations, 94 appointments were postponed an average of 81 days. But because the cancellations were improperly attributed to patients, no delays or backlog was evident in the center’s electronic scheduling system.
The most absurd part about the report is that the devious behavior of falsification followed the national review revealing widespread corruption at VA facilities across the nation which causedU.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki to resign. The scandals included rejected medical claims to delays in treatment and cover-ups by high-level officials. And now, fake patient cancellations.
“These issues have continued despite the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) having identified similar issues during a May and June 2014 system-wide review of access,” the report stated. “These conditions persisted because of a lack of effective training and oversight.”
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