If there is one facility within the entire Department of Veterans Affairs that shouldn’t have rampant management and safety problems, it’s the hospital in Washington, D.C.
This facility is directly under the noses of top VA leadership, Congress and the White House. Of all the VA hospitals, you’d think this one would pay special attention to patient safety, protocol and quick problem-solving.
If you thought that, you’d be wrong.
Last year, the VA’s Office of Inspector General released a rare interim report on shocking troubles at the D.C. VA medical center. Those problems included insufficient supplies, missing equipment and dirty storage areas.
The report called the problems “serious and troubling deficiencies at the Medical Center that place patients at unnecessary risk.”
For veterans who use this facility, that’s not what they want to hear as they wait for or make appointments. For the rest of us, that’s not something we want to hear about any facility whose duty is to care for veterans.
This week, the OIG released its final report on the D.C. VA medical center, the and results are as bad as anticipated.
- Surgeries were delayed or put off because equipment was unsterile or unavailable.
- Equipment tracking was severely lacking, leading to instances of dirty, missing or unnecessary supplies.
- Patients waited months for prosthetic and sensory aid products.
- Patient records and other personal information was stored in unsecured areas.
- Thousands of dollars were wasted on hospital equipment that could have been purchased for much less than the prices paid by the VA.
- There were problems with supplies and instruments in more than half of the records reviewed. One patient’s surgery was canceled after a necessary tool for wasn’t available — a shortcoming that wasn’t discovered until after the patient was under anesthesia.
- 1,300 boxes of records were found in warehouses, the hospital basement and a dumpster, most of them filled with confidential records.
The list is shocking. Perhaps the most egregious of all the findings is that multiple members of VA leadership knew about the problems and did nothing.
The OIG “encountered a culture of complacency among VA and Veterans Health Administration leaders at multiple levels who failed to address previously identified serious issues with a sense of urgency or purpose.”
CVA has called out this toxic VA culture for years. Veterans are often trapped in this system where employees put their own needs and convenience before the safety and health of veterans. Conditions at the D.C. VA are appalling — and unsurprising to those who have followed the many years of scandalous tales flowing from the VA.
No veteran should be forced to seek their health care in a system with such a lack of empathy and respect. This is why veterans need more choice over where to seek their medical care, whether at the VA or with a private provider.
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