Veterans die as VA covers up long waits

Wisconsin veterans might have heard that records regarding deceased veterans have been changed or physically altered before and after the media revealed the Veterans Affairs scandal. Numerous whistleblowers have alleged serious allegations against the VA, including assertions that it attempted to cover up the number of people who have died while waiting for care.

In particular, one scheduling clerk alleges that notes with annotations of “deceased” were omitted from the files of veterans in order to skew statistics regarding individuals who died while they waited on care at a Phoenix VA hospital. She said that supervisors ordered her to handle a secret waiting list on which the names of veterans were listed, sometimes for months, while they received no care. One of her central duties was to call individuals on this list when appointments were available. In many cases, she would discover that the veteran had died while waiting and would note this on the file.

However, several of these records were physically altered or written over after the clerk made notations. The new notes indicated that the patient was alive when he or she was actually deceased. Many of the changes occurred within the last few weeks in an attempt to hide the number of deaths. The clerk also reported that she was told to hide new requests for treatment. Another retired VA worker, a doctor, corroborated this report. He said that up to 40 veterans died as they waited for care from the Phoenix VA.

The scheduling clerk explained that she was scared to report her knowledge and that she’s still scared of retaliation. There have been reports of VA employees being retaliated against nationwide. If a person comes forward to report unethical conduct from a company, he or she might have protection under whistleblower statutes. An employment law attorney could explain if such protections exist in a specific case.

Source: CNN, “VA deaths covered up to make statistics look better, whistle-blower says“, Scott Bronstein, Drew Griffin and Nelli Black, June 24, 2014

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