ICYMI: Investigation Finds Improper Care, Scheduling Manipulations at Peru VA Clinic

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

ICYMI: Investigation Finds Improper Care, Scheduling Manipulations at Peru VA Clinic

Journal Gazette Reports VA Found Veterans’ Pain Medications Reduced Without Doctor Exam

MISHAWAKA, Ind. – An investigation requested by U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) and the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee found improper treatment of veterans and scheduling manipulations at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Peru Community Based Outpatient Clinic, the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette reported today. An excerpt from the story is below.

The Journal Gazette: Issues found at Peru VA clinic
Opioid doses, ‘fake appointments’ cited
By Brian Francisco

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs found patient care and access improprieties at a Peru outpatient clinic operated by the Fort Wayne-based VA Medical Center.

A VA on-site investigation conducted in December determined that a clinic employee had reduced doses of opioid pain medications for at least six patients without examining or meeting with them.

… VA also discovered that another Peru clinic employee was scheduling appointments for veterans without their knowledge and canceling them on the day of the appointment. The employee allegedly was “padding her schedule with fake appointments to fill her clinic schedule,” the report said.

A review of records from Oct. 1, 2014, through Dec. 21, 2016, uncovered 56 such “placeholder” appointments made by clinic staff, VA said. The practice could have denied veterans the opportunity to receive medical treatment, according to the report.

… Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-2nd, who said she sought the VA investigation after receiving complaints from patients, called the scheduling and opioid prescribing infractions “reprehensible.” She said veterans across the nation “are still dealing with this stuff” despite federal laws, VA leadership shake-ups and media scrutiny related to patient treatment delays and manipulated appointment records at VA hospitals and clinics in recent years.

“The VA system is broken, and it really cannot help itself internally. … It really takes a lot of outside interference and a lot of outside pressure to get change,” Walorski said Tuesday in a phone interview.

… Walorski said employees who committed the improprieties should be removed from their jobs.

“Fire them,” Walorski urged. “They couldn’t do the job. If they knowingly and willingly cooked books (on patient appointments), fire them. If the doctors knowingly and willingly jeopardized somebody’s life, and never even looking at somebody? Fire ’em. Get ’em out of the system. Clean the system up.”

… “I’m going to continue to fight for veterans every day,” Walorski said. She also vowed to “get to the bottom” of the death of the patient whose medications had been tapered.

The full story is available here.

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