Three patients at the Phoenix VA medical center recently died after not receiving the care that could have prolonged their lives, according to emails obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation.
Internal Phoenix VA emails indicate a medical review of about 40 deceased patients showed that if three patients on the list had received the care they needed, they might still be alive today.
While the analysis was only preliminary, the physician who examined delays in the three cases found them serious enough to forward along to quality management for further inspection. Without this particular whistleblower’s analysis, these three patients may have been forgotten forever.
Hospital management is not checking on why patients are dying, except for the few staff who go out of their way to double-check and review medical records, according to one whistleblower who spoke with TheDCNF.
There were also some hidden gems in the files of the other deceased patients, noted the physician. In one case, because a consultant started a note before the patient died but delayed signing the note, it appeared as though care was given after the patient died.
In another two cases, the consult, the referral for care to a specialist, was nothing more than a request to retrieve medical equipment following the patient’s death.
Poor records management also seeped into another consult, which was listed as “completed.” In reality, there was a request for the consult to be discontinued.
As a silver lining, the physician who examined the records did not find any cases of deliberate consult manipulation.
While there were a host of consult delays, the physician determined that, luckily, most of those delays didn’t have much effect on life expectancy, as the patients would have been denied with or without care. Several of the consults lapsed simply because the patient didn’t show up, refused care or was medically unfit for the consult.
The Phoenix VA has suffered scandal after scandal since gaining a notorious reputation for placing veterans on secret wait lists and manipulating wait times. Since then, other VA facilities around the country have undergone tremendous scrutiny, but Phoenix in particular continues to be a source of trouble, whether it’s abandoning suicidal veterans, physicians keeping veterans out of open appointment slots or staff breaching the medical record privacy of whistleblowers.
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