VA Patient Broke Back in December....Still Untreated
5-6-14 (reprinted with permission from Gilbert Watch)
Mesa patriot Dan Darling, who served in Viet Nam, was one of the veterans who has been fighting for months with the Phoenix Veterans Administration to obtain treatment. He broke his back in December. It was only after this Fox News interview that he finally got scheduled for pre-op tests and an out-patient procedure to inject his back with surgical cement.
There is a disturbing back story on the VA issue. Senator John McCain was made aware of the problems with the VA back in September 2013. It wasn't until last month that McCain came out "fighting" for his fellow veterans, and soaking up all the TV face time in the process.
Here's what happened. For years, whistle blower Dr. Katherine Mitchell had been notifying hospital administrators about the huge delays, inadequate triage, near misses, and a spike in suicides. Nothing was done.
In desperation, she filed a confidential complaint with the Office of Inspector General, channeled through McCain's office. Within days after she made the complaint via McCain's office, she was placed on administrative leave pending an investigation for "unspecified wrongdoing."
How many lives could John McCain have saved if he had acted back in September?
According to the article Second VA Doctor Blows Whistle on patient Care Failures:
Mitchell said she decided in September to file a confidential complaint with the Office of Inspector General, channeled through Arizona Sen. John McCain's office because she believed that would be more effective. She said the Phoenix VA was so dysfunctional that she included a multitude of other safety and patient-care issues in hopes of bringing "the greatest change possible."
Records show Mitchell's list of concerns went to Tom McCanna, McCain's staffer for veterans affairs. An aide to the senator said that more than 2,000 complaints about the VA have been received in the past 18 months but declined to discuss individual constituent complaints or to allow The Republic to interview McCanna.
Mitchell said she learned that only part of her correspondence was forwarded to the VA. Records show her list of concerns wasnot submitted to the inspector general, who investigates systemic problems and wrongdoing, but to the Office of Congressional and Legislative Affairs — a political liaison department in Washington.
A Feb. 27 letter to McCain's office from Michael Huff, congressional-relations officer for the VA, contains responses to Mitchell's complaint. It describes suicide-prevention processes, but does not address assertions that suicides increased amid growing delays in care. With regard to medical care, Huff's letter confirms a new Electronic Wait List was implemented, an inspector general probe was under way and new procedures and staff training were initiated. It does not address whether wait-time data had been falsified.
The VA Office of Congressional and Legislative Affairs did not respond to Republic inquiries.
Mitchell said that within days after she made the complaint via McCain's office, she was placed on administrative leave pending an investigation for unspecified wrongdoing. She said her confidentiality had been breached, and in January, Mitchell received written counseling that alleged she "may have" violated patient privacy in filing her complaint.
Mitchell said VA leaders refused to explain what she'd done wrong or provide documentation.
"I was devastated to learn I would not be given access to the investigative file because it was shredded 'for my own protection,'" she wrote recently in an open letter describing her experiences. "I was told that HR (human resources) determined it did not need to inform me of which specific policy I had violated because a written counseling did not rise to the level of a disciplinary action employees were allowed to challenge."
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