Some of the key findings and other highlights of an interim report from the Department of Veterans Affairs inspector general , looking into delays in health care in Phoenix and other areas:
—About 1,400 veterans were on an electronic waiting list and had appointments for care; another 1,700 veterans were waiting for an appointment but were not on the list, putting them “at risk of being forgotten or lost” in a convoluted scheduling process.
—A statistical sample of 226 veterans seeking health care at the Phoenix VA facilities found that they waited an average 115 days for their first appointment, but records were falsified to show they had waited only an average 24 days. About one-fourth of those patients received some level of care during the interim, such as in the emergency room or at a walk-in clinic.
—The Phoenix system’s executives “significantly understated the time new patients waited for their primary care appointment in their FY 2013 performance appraisal accomplishments, which is one of the factors considered for awards and salary increases.”
—Looking at other VA facilities, investigators concluded that inappropriate scheduling practices were a systemic problem nationwide.
—No determination has been made — but investigators are still looking into — allegations that delayed care led to patient deaths.
—Since 2005, the VA inspector general has issued 18 reports that identified deficiencies in scheduling at both the national and local levels.