Another VA clinic falsified records to conceal wait times

posted at 12:01 pm on May 5, 2014 by Gabriel Malor

A few weeks ago, discussing the explosive discovery that the Phoneix VA had created a secret waiting list for veterans who couldn’t be timely treated, one of my colleagues on the Ace of Spades HQ podcast noted that if one VA is doing it, many of them are.

Looks like he was right:

Clerks at the Department of Veterans Affairs clinic in Fort Collins were instructed last year how to falsify appointment records so it appeared the small staff of doctors was seeing patients within the agency’s goal of 14 days, according to the investigation. [...]

Many of the 6,300 veterans treated at the outpatient clinic waited months to be seen. If the clerical staff allowed records to reflect that veterans waited longer than 14 days, they were punished by being placed on a “bad boy list,” the report shows.

“Employees reported that scheduling was ‘fixed,’ ” the findings say.

It’s the same story as in Phoenix. The VA is supposed to see patients within 14 to 30 days, but administrators know they can’t meet that requirement. A false records system “fixes” the problem for administrators, but it leaves veterans out in the cold. It also obscures the VA’s problems with understaffing and underfunding.

In this case, the leaked VA report  doesn’t say if anyone was harmed or killed because of wait times or false records. But note that the report says clerks “were instructed.” That’s an infuriatingly passive statement that demands answers. Who instructed the clerks? When? And are the instructors still working for the VA? Without a doubt, a wider probe is called for.


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Fox fails to report, each time, that they do this to get fat yearly bonuses.

The scumhag from Phoenix is on a paid ‘vacation’ now.

Work harder!!!

Schadenfreude on May 5, 2014 at 12:05 PM

The VA is supposed to see patients within 14 to 30 days, but administrators know they can’t meet that requirement. A false records system “fixes” the problem for administrators, but it leaves veterans out in the cold. It also obscures the VA’s problems with understaffing and underfunding.

Coming soon to an Obamacare clinic near you!

2L8 on May 5, 2014 at 12:06 PM

OT – Bring this man home.

Schadenfreude on May 5, 2014 at 12:06 PM

Without a doubt, a wider probe is called for.

Where would you start though? The larger clinics? The smaller clinics that are spread out? How about doctors offices that have a contract to treat veterans, that are not within a 200 mile radius of a small clinic?

Things to think about.

upinak on May 5, 2014 at 12:07 PM

The scumhag from Phoenix received a $9,000.00 bonus while 40 Veterans died. She massaged the numbers for her own gain, costing people lives.

This is worse than Zimbabwe.

obama is CiC.

Schadenfreude on May 5, 2014 at 12:08 PM

Without a doubt, a wider probe is called for.

Stick it into the CiC’s azz, to get his attention.

Schadenfreude on May 5, 2014 at 12:09 PM

“Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action.”

Fallon on May 5, 2014 at 12:09 PM

Stick it into the CiC’s azz, to get his attention.

Schadenfreude on May 5, 2014 at 12:09 PM

It will just fall to the way side. Nothing sticks to that jerk.

upinak on May 5, 2014 at 12:11 PM

2L8 on May 5, 2014 at 12:06 PM

You beat me to it! Hey McLame, if you’re looking for a national disgrace I would say this pretty well qualifies.

cornbred on May 5, 2014 at 12:11 PM

This is such BS, and completely ignored by the press. Remember the mold at Walter Reed under Bush. It was all over the news, but apparently falsifying lists while Veterans die is better than a moldy hospital.

melle1228 on May 5, 2014 at 12:13 PM

Totally unexpected from a government-run healthcare system. No one could’ve seen this coming. Quit whining, for crying out loud – these people have access to affordable healthcare, what more could they possibly want – quality? Timeliness? Geez.

Midas on May 5, 2014 at 12:14 PM

Totally unexpected from a government-run healthcare system. No one could’ve seen this coming. Quit whining, for crying out loud – these people have access to affordable healthcare, what more could they possibly want – quality? Timeliness? Geez.

Midas on May 5, 2014 at 12:14 PM

“greedy Americans” will be the next “you didn’t build that”.

VegasRick on May 5, 2014 at 12:19 PM

Lies, deceit and obfuscation. It all flows from the TOP. Obama has set the precedent of how his Regime will operate, and they are performing precisely the way he wants them to.

Meople on May 5, 2014 at 12:20 PM

The scumhag from Phoenix received a $9,000.00 bonus while 40 Veterans died. She massaged the numbers for her own gain, costing people lives.

This is worse than Zimbabwe.

obama is CiC.

Schadenfreude on May 5, 2014 at 12:08 PM

Not quite as worse as ZImbabwe, yet, but Obama will get us to that point.

This woman’s future has a potential promotion and discrete transfer to an Obamacare facility. Massaging numbers for their own gain is the model of this admin for all other federal bureaucrats to follow.

/SNARK

hawkeye54 on May 5, 2014 at 12:23 PM

Lies, deceit and obfuscation. It all flows from the TOP. Obama has set the precedent of how his Regime will operate, and they are performing precisely the way he wants them to.

Meople on May 5, 2014 at 12:20 PM

Absolutely.

hawkeye54 on May 5, 2014 at 12:24 PM

Note that 22 million now work for the US government, 22 flukeing millions!!!

Wake up America. You are milked by inept Jeantels and other dorks.

Schadenfreude on May 5, 2014 at 12:25 PM

More of the left’s war on the military….

The goal is to discourage those on the right to join the military.

The left wants a gay, transgender pot of social misfits to drain the tax coffers without defending the US.

redguy on May 5, 2014 at 12:26 PM

A competent executive would have audited all the other facilities based on the reports from the first one.

airupthere on May 5, 2014 at 12:27 PM

The scumhag from Phoenix received a $9,000.00 bonus while 40 Veterans died. She massaged the numbers for her own gain, costing people lives.

This is worse than Zimbabwe.

obama is CiC.

Schadenfreude on May 5, 2014 at 12:08 PM

Yes, drain the tax coffers so money is not spent on the vets….

Look at the IRS and EPA, bonuses galore while they shut down business and audit their enemies on the right…..

The government needs a huge enema.

redguy on May 5, 2014 at 12:27 PM

We HAVE to start looking at getting some sort of patient advocacy group to act as a system watchdog in place soon!

Here’s a presentation I found online about the electronic health record system for the VA. Page 2 is a hierarchy chart of the VA.

And this includes a link for those who want to actually look inside an electronic health record (software download required)

lineholder on May 5, 2014 at 12:28 PM

More of the left’s war on the military….

The goal is to discourage those on the right to join the military.

The left wants a gay, transgender pot of social misfits to drain the tax coffers without defending the US.

redguy on May 5, 2014 at 12:26 PM

Wow, that would totally end well for everyone.

Midas on May 5, 2014 at 12:28 PM

A competent executive would have audited all the other facilities based on the reports from the first one.

airupthere on May 5, 2014 at 12:27 PM

We’re talking about the government here. The phrase ‘competent executive’ rarely enters the conversation.

Midas on May 5, 2014 at 12:29 PM

If you are a Vet or know someone who is a Vet, learn about Personal Health Records (PHRs).

Help all of us to protect the system from abuse by keeping track of any and all info coming to you from the VA. Ask for electronic documents emailed to you or paper copies for your records (even when trying to schedule an appointment!!!) Set up a PHR file (you don’t have to use an established site. You can set up your own file at home…scan documents into electronic format if you can)

If we succeed in setting up patient advocacy orgs, they help in the administration and protection of these documents.

This is just one way we can protect ourselves and each other!

lineholder on May 5, 2014 at 12:35 PM

A false records system “fixes” the problem for administrators, but it leaves veterans out in the cold. It also obscures the VA’s problems with understaffing and underfunding.

This culture of corruption begins at the top. Secretary Shinseki should be forced to resign. Clearly he and his administrators were more concerned about papering over the flaws in the system instead of helping veterans. As a retired four-star, Shinseki ought to be ashamed of himself. He has betrayed every person that wore the uniform.

Happy Nomad on May 5, 2014 at 12:39 PM

lineholder on May 5, 2014 at 12:35 PM

There is a problem concerning this. Older Veterans who are not computer literate. They are the individuals at the moment who are having the most issues, and I am sure they are also the individuals who are not being seen due to their lack of computer skills.

The VA is trying to do everything via computer/internet, including pills, refills and any appointments. It is hard for those who don’t know what to do, to do much of anything.

upinak on May 5, 2014 at 12:42 PM

upinak on May 5, 2014 at 12:42 PM

I understand exactly where you’re coming from, but this is the best option we have.

That’s why we genuinely need to get patient advocacy groups in place.

In the meantime, learn what you can about PHRs and keep what records you can (including paper!) It doesn’t have to be the entire medical record. If it is an outpatient or office visit, usually they will generate what is called an “encounter form”. This would state the chief complaint (cause of visit), date of visit, diagnosis and procedures codes…enough to determine the scope of care considered and the timeliness of that care. Find a way to attach it back to the request for visit (when the appointment is made) whether it be via paper or electronic format.

lineholder on May 5, 2014 at 12:53 PM

They are the individuals at the moment who are having the most issues, and I am sure they are also the individuals who are not being seen due to their lack of computer skills.

The VA is trying to do everything via computer/internet, including pills, refills and any appointments. It is hard for those who don’t know what to do, to do much of anything.

upinak on May 5, 2014 at 12:42 PM

You can’t just make the assumption that older Americans lack computer skills. But more importantly, that shouldn’t be a death sentence because some Senior Executive hides their patient backlog.

Happy Nomad on May 5, 2014 at 12:53 PM

I don’t get it. What’s the problem? This is what the American Voter chose.

Lines and dying while waiting in line is the most basic aspect of government controlled medical care. Other countries went down this road before us. We have known it for decades.

It’s how government controlled medical care saves costs. It’s why the socialized medicine world has managed to spend so much less on medical care relative to GDP than we’ve been doing.

Get with the program, peons!

fadetogray on May 5, 2014 at 12:57 PM

This gives basic information about meeting the release of information criteria under HIPAA.

And this is a copy of the VA’s ROI authorization form.

If nothing else, encourage the family members of Vets to set it up so that they can get access to the Veterans medical records.

lineholder on May 5, 2014 at 1:02 PM

I retired from the USMC in 2011 (29 years active duty, Desert Shield/Storm, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc). Went to VA that fall to finalize my paperwork so I could receive treatment if needed. After doctors missing appointments, appointments falling off the VA schedule, multiple month long waits for this “benefit” –I gave up and haven’t been back and won’t go back if I can help it. The comments above about this “coming to an Obamacare clinic near you soon” are more accurate than you know. Its a crying shame. Nothing will be done.

ColBubba on May 5, 2014 at 1:16 PM

If you set unrealistic goals, you’re going to get workarounds. Short-staffed hospitals can only see just so many patients.

The Brits demonstrated that when they put short limits on overwhelmed ER waiting times in their NHS hospitals. The hospitals responded by holding patients in ambulances in the parking lots, delaying their actual registration timestamp until it was possible to process them within the time limit.

Most of the blame should climb UP the command tree, to those that knowingly place these institutions into no-win situations like these, or knowingly allow them to fall into these conditions due to either waste or intentional diversions of funds, supplies, or labor.

bofh on May 5, 2014 at 1:20 PM

instructed last year how to falsify appointment records

Who instructed them? Was it VA wide? It looks as though it was an order from DC.

Patriot Vet on May 5, 2014 at 2:12 PM

Another VA clinic falsified records to conceal wait times

…tip of the iceberg… but now the ‘shredders and scrubbers’ will be working overtime!

KOOLAID2 on May 5, 2014 at 2:48 PM

First order, sign up for Obamacare and these issues will go away. VA hospital is an old model of care anyway. Why can’t these veterans go to a regular hospital or doctor. Do they need a special ‘VA’ doctor or hospital for care? Geez.
Now fixing the books, that is wrong and should be addressed. No one will “fix” the long wait times if there is no data suggesting that it needs fixing. But since this is government, made up data is the norm!

libbyscooter on May 5, 2014 at 2:51 PM

But note that the report says clerks “were instructed.” That’s an infuriatingly passive statement that demands answers. Who instructed the clerks?

They were instructed by the government’s top efficiency expert…
Ben Ghazi.

Marcola on May 5, 2014 at 3:28 PM

This culture of corruption begins at the top. Secretary Shinseki should be forced to resign. Clearly he and his administrators were more concerned about papering over the flaws in the system instead of helping veterans. As a retired four-star, Shinseki ought to be ashamed of himself. He has betrayed every person that wore the uniform.
Happy Nomad on May 5, 2014 at 12:39 PM

Same Clinton flack that spiked the experimental uparmored HMMWV program, as well as add-on armor for the rest of the fleet, during the Bosnian conlict, over the objections of TACOM Program Managers that wanted to expand it to all tactical/armored vehicles. Instead he wanted to build Crusaders and wanted the “Army of One” soldiers to look snazzy in black (imported from China) berets. Then of course, Rumsfeld gets the blame for going to war with the Army he had.

Shinseki, your name is mud!!!

AH_C on May 5, 2014 at 3:32 PM

First order, sign up for Obamacare and these issues will go away. VA hospital is an old model of care anyway. Why can’t these veterans go to a regular hospital or doctor. Do they need a special ‘VA’ doctor or hospital for care? Geez.
Now fixing the books, that is wrong and should be addressed. No one will “fix” the long wait times if there is no data suggesting that it needs fixing. But since this is government, made up data is the norm!

libbyscooter on May 5, 2014 at 2:51 PM

Did you forget the sarc tag when suggesting that these issues will go away if you sign up for Obamacare? Just wondering.

I agree that the VA system should probably be folded in to the “regular” system. There are of course some special issues for Vets, but having a duplicate government run system is not efficient for many issues.

2L8 on May 5, 2014 at 4:12 PM

With the cuts in veterans’ benefits (allowed to slide through by the GOP “leadership” in the House), this is only going to get worse.

Ward Cleaver on May 5, 2014 at 5:18 PM

As a former federal employee let me explain how this all works. First, a new and improve tracking system is launched with great fanfare. Then, every federal site that ends up in the bottom third of the resulting new list is given a good talking too. Plus, the managers of these sites don’t get a yearly bonus (after all, they aren’t doing all that well, are they). Then, the top third of the list gets more personal and over-time allotments (that’s called reinforcing success and/or getting the most bang for your buck). Then, some really interesting things start to happen: the “bad” sites start to shot up the list. After all, that’s the only thing that counts, isn’t it? I wonder how that was accomplished? Don’t you? Then, other of the old “bad” sites suddenly get better. Wow, it’s catching. Then, the honest sites are all given a stern talking too, along the lines of “why can’t you keep up just like your betters are doing.” Then, everyone is doing exceptionally well. Then, its discovered that the tracking system is worthless as everyone is cheating. And then, it’s all replaced. And then, the whole process starts over.

Fred 2 on May 5, 2014 at 5:24 PM

From the Headlines thread:

I’ve been saying for years if you want to see socialized medicine (aka Obamacare) in action, look no further than the VA system.

The VA has a system where you can order refills on medications online. I saw my primary care doc about a month ago. She renewed my prescriptions and put the order in for refills. I got everything except for 1 item. I went online, and sure enough it was marked as having been filled. I called the pharmacist, and she said they were out of the med, but as soon as it came in it would be sent out. In other words, they knew it hadn’t been filled, but they marked it as completed. Meanwhile, of course, I’m out of the med.

Mitoch55 on May 5, 2014 at 6:03 PM

Mitoch55 on May 5, 2014 at 6:06 PM

Then, the honest sites are all given a stern talking too, along the lines of “why can’t you keep up just like your betters are doing.”

Why don’t they just explain that “well, the other guys are fudging their numbers, that’s why. Do you want us to fudge our numbers too?”

Moron Labe on May 5, 2014 at 7:19 PM

The VA has always been a problem, because guess what? It is government run healthcare. Anyone who thought single-payer was the answer to all healthcare prayers never was treated at a VA.

txmomof6 on May 5, 2014 at 7:53 PM

I wonder where all those fools who are touting single payer system are now. I remember how during the lead up to the passing of Obama care how all the lefties touted the VA system as a model. I am so angry that they are nowhere to be found and that the GD news media is nowhere to be found. They are all for singe payer as long as someone else is in the system -just not themselves. All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.

warmairfan on May 5, 2014 at 9:38 PM

Without a doubt, a wider probe is called for.

The pathetic VA has been screaming for a wider probe for at laeast 4 years now, but for some reason, Congress refuses to put the same level of oversight into it as it does other things like the IRS targeting.

91Veteran on May 6, 2014 at 5:00 AM

You beat me to it! Hey McLame, if you’re looking for a national disgrace I would say this pretty well qualifies.

cornbred on May 5, 2014 at 12:11 PM

That disgraceful b@st@rd was calling for immigration reform a couple days after the Phoenix VA scandal was reported.

He couldn’t be bothered to comment on the VA there.

91Veteran on May 6, 2014 at 5:01 AM

I retired from the USMC in 2011 (29 years active duty, Desert Shield/Storm, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc). Went to VA that fall to finalize my paperwork so I could receive treatment if needed. After doctors missing appointments, appointments falling off the VA schedule, multiple month long waits for this “benefit” –I gave up and haven’t been back and won’t go back if I can help it. The comments above about this “coming to an Obamacare clinic near you soon” are more accurate than you know. Its a crying shame. Nothing will be done.

ColBubba on May 5, 2014 at 1:16 PM

I have been going to the VA for medical care of service connected conditions since late 1991, early 1992. I could write a few novels on the horror stories.

I said for months prior to UrkelCare being rammed through, if any civilian wanted to experience what care would be like under that, to volunteer at a local VA for 6 months. They would get to know a little about what they were getting.

91Veteran on May 6, 2014 at 5:09 AM

If you set unrealistic goals, you’re going to get workarounds. Short-staffed hospitals can only see just so many patients.

The Brits demonstrated that when they put short limits on overwhelmed ER waiting times in their NHS hospitals. The hospitals responded by holding patients in ambulances in the parking lots, delaying their actual registration timestamp until it was possible to process them within the time limit.

Most of the blame should climb UP the command tree, to those that knowingly place these institutions into no-win situations like these, or knowingly allow them to fall into these conditions due to either waste or intentional diversions of funds, supplies, or labor.

bofh on May 5, 2014 at 1:20 PM

Short staffing may be causing this, but that short staffing is due to piss poor management from the local director all the way to Washington. The new facility in Denver is way over budget and way behind schedule. How many veterans could be provided care for the waste there?

At my local Grand Junction, CO VA, I ate pain pills for 5 months after going to the VA ER…and waiting on surgery. While waiting, they were completing a $1.5 million dollar installation of solar panels on the park structures…complete with charging stations so people can recharge their electric cars.

I will give them a year and FOIA the usage records for those charging stations.

91Veteran on May 6, 2014 at 5:13 AM

First order, sign up for Obamacare and these issues will go away. VA hospital is an old model of care anyway. Why can’t these veterans go to a regular hospital or doctor. Do they need a special ‘VA’ doctor or hospital for care? Geez.
Now fixing the books, that is wrong and should be addressed. No one will “fix” the long wait times if there is no data suggesting that it needs fixing. But since this is government, made up data is the norm!

libbyscooter on May 5, 2014 at 2:51 PM

Right. I don’t disagree with you to some extent, but how many local doctors have experience with spinal cord injuries? How many have experience with TBI?

91Veteran on May 6, 2014 at 5:15 AM

The VA has always been a problem, because guess what? It is government run healthcare. Anyone who thought single-payer was the answer to all healthcare prayers never was treated at a VA.

txmomof6 on May 5, 2014 at 7:53 PM

Around 1992, Senator Jay Rockefeller was quoted in a USA Today article. He said then the US had around 26 million veterans, and the VA only provided care to about 3%.

It was eFed up then and only getting worse.

91Veteran on May 6, 2014 at 5:19 AM

one of my colleagues on the Ace of Spades HQ podcast noted that if one VA is doing it, many of them are.

Well this sucks. I provided links to news articles of this happening at the Augusta VA, Columbia, SC VA, Dallas and LA VA’s, and links to news articles showing two VA whistleblowers being fired, one for recording a staff meeting at the LA VA discussing the plan, another to the VA defending the cancellations, and a third to another whistleblower being fired after reporting the VA was falsifying Gulf War veteran medical research.

Hotair must not like that many links in a comment.

91Veteran on May 6, 2014 at 5:48 AM

I got everything except for 1 item. I went online, and sure enough it was marked as having been filled. I called the pharmacist, and she said they were out of the med, but as soon as it came in it would be sent out. In other words, they knew it hadn’t been filled, but they marked it as completed. Meanwhile, of course, I’m out of the med.

Mitoch55 on May 5, 2014 at 6:03 PM

And if they don’t / won’t / can’t send it out?
“Well, we sent it to you before. See, here, it says your prescription was filled.” If you want a duplicate, you’ll have to pay for it. And if it was a “controlled substance”, expect the DEA’s SWAT team at your doors (and windows) to inquire about it.

The nice thing about a “paperless” workplace, is that there’s no paper trail. Paper can’t be disappeared with a few keystrokes…

ReggieA on May 6, 2014 at 4:28 PM

…Shinseki is a Vet…he should be respected and not grilled by any TRU-CONS!

………….signed….joana

KOOLAID2 on May 8, 2014 at 1:09 PM

Yeah, Clinton flack that spiked the experimental uparmored HMMWV program, as well as add-on armor for the rest of the fleet, during the Bosnian conflict, over the objections of TACOM Program Managers that wanted to expand it to all tactical/armored vehicles.

Instead he wanted to build Crusaders and wanted the “Army of One” soldiers to look snazzy in black (imported from China) berets. Then of course, Rumsfeld gets the blame for going to war with the Army he had.

Oboobie brung him back from exile to run the military version of OboobieCare. How’s the bending healthcare cost curve down working out?

Shinseki, your name is AA mud!!!

AH_C on May 8, 2014 at 7:24 PM