The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) deleted veteran medical records despite its claim to the contrary, according to documents obtained by The Daily Caller.
TheDC reported Monday that former VA Los Angeles Medical Center employee Oliver Mitchell was instructed to help cancel backlogged veteran medical exam requests during a coordinated process that began at the facility in March 2009. Audio of an internal VA meeting obtained by TheDC confirms that VA officials in Los Angeles intentionally canceled backlogged patient exam requests.
The abuses occurred during a period in which VA offices across the country were “instructed to mass purge” backlogged veteran exam requests, according to an inspector general report obtained by TheDC.
VA confirmed that backlogged exam requests in Los Angeles were deleted but claimed that veterans who still needed exams did not have their exam requests or records deleted.
“VA Greater Los Angeles (GLA) Healthcare System did not destroy patients’ personal medical records from VA’s electronic health record system. GLA did identify that there were large numbers of very old imaging requests in the system. As part of appropriate patient care processes, GLA did perform a carefully planned project of administratively clearing old imaging requests after an extensive review of these studies,” VA said in a statement after the revelations were published. “…As a result, designated staff begin discontinuing old imaging requests after individual review. If the request indicated that the study was a follow-up study for some future date, the request was not discontinued.”
But Mitchell says that in Los Angeles, exam requests that were found to still be needed were “definitely” destroyed.
“I know that it’s false,” Mitchell said in response to the VA statement. “Trust me, there was no selective review. There was a list that went back to the ’90s and they just went through and canceled each one, including ones that were valid.”
The list was distributed at the facility by Dr. Suzie El-Saden, who was then head of radiology.