The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) blocked the release of the names of hospitals where 19 veterans died because of delays in medical screenings, leading to calls for transparency from news outlets and a bipartisan group of Capitol Hill lawmakers.
Earlier this month, the VA denied a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request from Tampa Tribune reporter Howard Altman, who had been investigating the deaths.
CNN reported in January that 19 veterans died as a result of delayed gastrointestinal cancer screenings, while another 63 were seriously injured. CNN obtained internal documents from the VA listing the number of “institutional disclosures of adverse events”—the bureaucratic phrase for a mistake that gravely harms or kills a patient.
However, the documents did not list the names of the hospitals and clinics where the deaths took place. When Altman asked VA for the names of the hospitals, he was told he would have to file a FOIA request. His subsequent FOIA request was denied.