- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A report released Tuesday found widespread poor patient care at the Veterans Affairs facility in Phoenix, though it could not be conclusively linked to patient deaths.

The final inspector general report found more than 3,500 veterans on an unofficial wait list at the Phoenix facility. An interim report released in May had only found about 1,700 veterans who had not been placed on an official wait list and, as a result, were in jeopardy of never receiving an appointment.

Tuesday’s report details several specific cases of poor patient treatment. In one, Phoenix VA schedulers tried to set up an appointment with a veteran in his late 60s three months after he died, though the report found an earlier appointment would likely not have saved the life of the patient with advanced liver disease.

In another case, doctors told a veteran that they suspected he had a malignant lung tumor. The patient did not receive a diagnostic test and an official diagnoses until nine weeks later. The report suggested that while more timely care would not have saved his life, starting hospice care sooner could have improved his care.

The report is the result of months of investigations launched earlier this year when a whistleblower claimed that 40 veterans died while awaiting care at the Phoenix facility. Since then, subsequent reports found widespread problems at VA hospitals across the country including long wait times, poor scheduling practices and retaliation against whistleblowers.