- Associated Press - Thursday, November 6, 2014

HAMPTON, Va. (AP) - The Hampton VA Medical Center has increased staff training and education following a report that criticized the hospital’s handling of a patient who died.

An inspection found that nursing staff at the hospital’s Spinal Cord Injury center did not follow the hospital’s policy requiring a patient to be checked every 30 minutes. Inspectors also could not find documentation of what, if any, actions were taken after the nursing staff was notified by two non-nursing employees of a change in the patient’s condition, the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General said in a report released Wednesday.

Inspectors could not determine whether the patient’s death resulted from the nursing staff’s failure to immediately assess him for potential problems, the report said. The patient was a quadriplegic and a longtime resident of the hospital’s Spinal Cord Injury center. He died in the spring of 2013 from aspiration pneumonia with anoxic brain injury.

A complaint alleging the man’s death resulted from improper nursing care prompted the inspection in November 2013. The report did not say who submitted the complaint.

The report recommended that the hospital evaluate policies for rounds and documentation and provide training for all staff regarding patient rounds. In response, the hospital began additional training and education Aug. 1, Michael Dunfee said in a letter to the director of the VA Mid-Atlantic Health Care Network, which operates the hospital. The letter was released with the inspector general’s report.

“We acknowledge that further education and training is required to clarify expectations for the rounding process, to include the timing of rounds and expectations for staff to document when there is a significant change in the patient’s condition, diagnosis, or status,” Dunfee wrote.

Dunfee said the hospital reviewed its patient round and documentation policies and concluded that they provide appropriate guidance to staff.

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