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. Jones: Bucs need success to get national respect


    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents on the world of sports.

    No respect

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field during the second day of mandatory minicamp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  2. Hopes fade after landslide destroys Chinese village (w/video)


    Crews searching through the night in the rubble left by a landslide that buried a mountain village under tons of soil and rocks in southwestern China found 15 bodies, but more than 110 more people remained missing.

    Vehicles and people line a road leading to the site of a landslide in Xinmo village in Mao County on Saturday in southwestern China’s Sichuan Province. More than 100 people remained missing after the village was buried under tons of rocks and soil.
  3. Rookie Jake Faria dissatisfied with performance in Rays' loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The rookie pitcher walked to his locker Saturday after tossing the fourth quality start in as many tries to begin his career. He held the potent Orioles bats to three runs and for six innings gave his team a chance to win.

    Orioles third baseman Manny Machado tags out the Rays’ Mallex Smith at third after a rundown in the first inning.
  4. Thousands converge in two St. Pete locations celebrating LGBT rights

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tom Rockhill didn't know what to expect Saturday, but by noon people were knocking on the door of his bar Right Around the Corner in Grand Central.

    (From left to right) Emma Chalut 18, gets a rainbow sticker on her cheek from her sister Ellie, 15 both of Jacksonville before the annual St. Pete Pride parade in downtown St. Petersburg on Saturday. This year the route was changed from the Grand Central and Kenwood area to Bayshore Drive.
[EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]
  5. Retired Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald dies

    TALLAHASSEE — A former Florida Supreme Court justice, who wrote a decision that prevented lawyers from excluding jurors because of their race, has died.

    Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald died Saturday, the court said in a statement. He was 93.