Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Practices at VA face more criticism

WASHINGTON — The Department of Veterans Affairs has played down instances of poor medical care by describing them as a "harmless error," even in the face of its own employees' concerns, according to a federal watchdog agency.

In a letter to President Barack Obama and Congress on Monday, the Office of Special Counsel substantiated a long list of problems at VA medical centers, from high levels of Legionella bacteria at a clinic in Grand Junction, Colo., to a psychiatric patient who waited eight years for his first evaluation after being admitted to a mental health facility in Brockton, Mass.

The OSC, which investigates whistle-blower complaints and protects federal employees from retaliation, is reviewing more than 50 complaints from VA workers who alleged that inappropriate practices harmed patient safety or health. The watchdog agency said it has referred 29 of those cases to the VA for further investigation.

In its letter, it detailed 10 cases nationwide in which the VA and its Office of the Medical Inspector acknowledged treatment issues but refused to acknowledge their impact on veterans.

"These cases are part of a troubling pattern of deficient patient care at VA facilities nationwide, and the continued resistance by the VA, and (Office of the Medical Inspector) in most cases, to recognize and address the impact on the health and safety of veterans," U.S. Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner wrote.

Lerner said the harmless-error defense has "prevented the VA from acknowledging the severity of systemic problems and from taking the necessary steps to provide quality care to veterans." She added that "veterans' health and safety has been unnecessarily put at risk" because of the issue.

The letter follows recent revelations about widespread falsification of scheduling records to hide treatment delays at VA medical centers across the country.

Acting VA Secretary Sloan Gibson, who took over after Eric Shinseki resigned last month, said he was "deeply disappointed" by the findings.

Practices at VA face more criticism 06/23/14 [Last modified: Monday, June 23, 2014 11:24pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Washington Post.

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Who is in charge during a hurricane? Hillsborough County and Tampa still can't agree


    TAMPA — Who has the authority to order an evacuation during a hurricane?

    Mayor Bob Buckhorn says he has evacuation authority.
  2. Gators rally past Kentucky, streak hits 31


    LEXINGTON, Ky. — For the second week in a row, Florida found itself storming the field in a game that came down to the last second. A 57-yard field-goal attempt by Kentucky kicker Austin MacGinnis came just a few feet short of making history and snapping a 30-year losing streak, as the No. 20 Gators escaped a …

    Florida wide receiver Brandon Powell (4) scores a touchdown during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Kentucky, Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, in Lexington, Ky.
  3. Pen makes it way too interesting as Rays hang on for 9-6 win


    A couple of home runs provided the news pegs of the night for the Rays, but it was more topical to talk about what nearly happened as they hung on for a 9-6 win over the Orioles.

    Lucas Duda's three-run homer in the third inning was the Rays' record-breaking 217th of the season, as well as his …

  4. An attempt to project what Rays will look like in 2018

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — We know what the Rays look like this year: a team that had enough talent but too many flaws, in construction and performance, and in the next few days will be officially eliminated from a wild-card race it had a chance to win but let slip away.

    Adeiny Hechavarria, high-fiving Lucas Duda, seems likely to be brought back.
  5. Trump fallout: Bucs' DeSean Jackson to make 'statement' Sunday


    Bucs receiver DeSean Jackson said Saturday that he will make a "statement" before today's game against the Vikings in response to President Donald Trump's comment that owners should "fire" players who kneel in protest during the national anthem.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver DeSean Jackson (11) makes a catch during the first half of an NFL game between the Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017.