OIG Report: More Than 100 Veterans Died While Waiting for Care at Los Angeles VA

VA employees failed to follow proper procedure

Veterans Affairs
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May 6, 2017

More than 100 veterans died while waiting for care at a Veterans Affairs hospital in Los Angeles, Calif., over a nine-month span ending in August 2015, according to a new government report.

The VA Office of Inspector General found in a recent healthcare inspection that 225 veterans at the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System facility died with open or pending consults between Oct. 1, 2015 and Aug. 9, 2015. Nearly half—117—of those patients died while experiencing delays in receiving care.

The inspector general reported that 43 percent of the 371 consults scheduled for patients who ended up dying were not timely because of a failure by VA employees to follow proper procedure. The report was unable to substantiate claims that patients died as a result of the delayed consults.

Concerned Veterans for America, a D.C.-based nonprofit, cited the OIG findings as evidence that problems persist at the Department of Veterans Affairs despite a series of legislative reforms implemented after the 2014 wait time scandal in Phoenix, Ariz.

"VA negligence can be a matter of life or death," CVA policy director Dan Caldwell said in a statement Thursday. "While the VA wait scandal received the most attention a few years ago, the reality is that Congress hasn’t done anything to change the toxic culture at the VA and we can’t be sure that veterans still aren’t dying waiting for care."

Caldwell told the Washington Free Beacon that it's important to recognize the OIG investigation covers a period that occurred two years ago, suggesting that changes have since been implemented. He said the report reinforces findings that wait list manipulation took place at VA facilities nationwide and was not isolated to a handful of hospitals, as initially suspected.

The VA did not return a request for comment.

The House passed legislation in March that would expedite the process of firing VA employees who have put the lives of veterans at risk. VA Secretary David Shulkin backed the legislation after facing difficulty firing a Houston-based VA employee who was caught watching pornography while with a patient.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) introduced the bill in the Senate, but the chamber has yet to vote on the legislation.