- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 29, 2015

Investigators found that almost a quarter of patients at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Phoenix may have never received follow-up care when referred to an outside urologist.

An interim inspector general report released Thursday found that even when a patient’s record included authorization for outside care and sometimes a time and date for an appointment with a private urologist, in 23 percent of cases they found no documents to show the appointment ever happened. This lack of documentation could lead the VA to miss important follow-up care, the report said.

“This finding also suggests that potentially important recommendations and follow-up are not being addressed by the referring providers because they do not have access to the outside records,” the report said.

In some cases, employees earlier this month told investigators they were “hundreds of records behind” in entering these outside records into a patient’s VA profile, the report said. It found the office “understaffed and unable to keep up” with administrative duties.

Even some patients who were seen at the VA urologist in Phoenix may have missed follow-up care because of a staffing shortage that prevented documentation from being entered in the system in a timely manner, the report found.

The investigation into the urology care in Phoenix is ongoing and a final report will be released at a later date.

Investigators completed a report on the Phoenix VA system after a whistleblower alleged last year that veterans were dying while waiting for care on a secret list. They found widespread problems of data manipulation, scheduling problems and poor care.

During the investigation, inspector general employees found such substantial problems with the urology department that they launched another investigation to look at that specifically.

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