Investigation into VA wait lists expands to more hospitals

Federal investigators are probing Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals across the country amid allegations hospital officials kept secret waitlists.

Whistleblowers at Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital in the Chicago area claim officials kept secret waitlists to collect bonuses for on-time treatment, WGN TV reported. Accusers say vets on the secret lists wait days, weeks or months before receiving treatment for physical and mental illnesses, while hospital executives avoid penalties and even get bonuses, according to the article.

Even in Madison, Wisconsin, where the VA hospital is consistently rated among the best in the country, veterans are calling for investigations into operations, Channel3000.com reported.

The investigations began after allegations surfaced in April that as many as 40 veterans died while waiting for treatment at the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care System, and were part of a "secret waiting list" designed to hide about 1,500 ailing veterans who waited months at a time to see a doctor, FierceHealthcare previously reported. Since then, a staff member at a San Antonio VA hospital made similar claims.

"Due to the serious nature of recent allegations, leadership at the Hines VA Hospital requested that the VA Office of the Inspector General conduct an investigation," the hospital said in an email statement to FierceHealthcare. "The VA takes any allegations about patient care or employee misconduct very seriously. If the allegations are true, the inappropriate behavior is unacceptable and employees will be held accountable."

VA Secretary Eric Shinseki will address the allegations at a Senate hearing, although an internal probe found no evidence to substantiate the claims about the secret waiting list at the Phoenix VA, according to Channel3000.com.

Steve Young, director of the Salt Lake City VA Health Care System, took over as interim director of the embattled Phoenix VA, after the department placed Director Sharon Helman and two other employees on administrative leave earlier this month.

To learn more:
- here's the WGN TV article
- read the Channel3000.com article

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