VA Bosses In 7 States Ordered Wait Time Records Falsified

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More than 100 facilities investigated, and 29 people disciplined for improper scheduling and falsifying records.

USA TODAY — Supervisors instructed schedulers to falsify patient wait times at Veterans Affairs’ medical facilities in at least seven states, according to newly released investigation reports from the department’s inspector general.

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]VA whistle-blowers say schedulers still are manipulating wait times. Shea Wilkes, co-director of a group of more than 40 whistle-blowers from VA medical facilities in more than a dozen states, said the group continues to hear about it from employees across the country who are scared to come forward.[/pullquote]

The manipulation gave the false impression that the facilities in Arkansas, California, Delaware, Illinois, New York, Texas and Vermont were meeting VA performance measures for shorter wait times.

The reports detail for the first time since the Phoenix VA wait-time scandal in 2014 how widespread scheduling manipulation was throughout the VA. Investigators previously have said manipulation was “systemic” but they did not identify which facilities had problems and how serious they were.

The investigations found that employees at 40 VA medical facilities in 19 states and Puerto Rico regularly “zeroed out” veteran wait times, which masked growing demand as new waves of veterans returned from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and as Vietnam veterans aged and needed more health care.  In some cases, the system encouraged manipulation even without explicit instruction from supervisors.

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