Phoenix VA hospital one of last to deploy electronic waitlist system

The Phoenix VA hospital, under investigation after some patients died while awaiting treatment, was among the last to adopt an electronic waitlist system that had been deployed elsewhere in the system since at least 2002, reports Nextgov.

The electronic waitlist, or EWL, was built into the VistA technology and designed to eliminate "ad hoc" wait lists such as the reported "secret wait list" being investigated by the Department of Veterans Affairs inspector general's office.

Each of the 152 VA hospitals decided when they would deploy the EWL system, a former VA official told Nextgov. Phoenix deployed it in 2012, a decade after it was introduced.

In an investigative report, CNN accused VA employees of a cover-up and treatment delays to more than 1,400 ailing veterans, some of whom died while waiting for appointments.

The House Veterans Affairs Committee panel voted last week to subpoena VA Secretary Eric Shinseki. He has ordered a face-to-face audit of all VA clinics, according to CNN.

In a letter to committee chair Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.), Shinseki said that before installing the system, Phoenix was not in compliance with agency policy. The policy required new patients who could not been seen within 90 days to be placed on the EWL; VA policy has since extended that to more than 120 days.

Meanwhile, a nurse in Wyoming has been placed on administrative leave after allegedly writing an email detailing how to "game" the system to hide long delays in treatment for veterans, according to USA Today.

Appearing before the House committee in March, a top VA official disputed claims that the VA Greater Los Angeles Medical Center destroyed appointment backlog records to boost its numbers.

To learn more:
- read the Nextgov article
- here's the CNN story
- find the USA Today piece

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