According to a whistleblower, the Department of Veteran Affairs, or the VA, is responsible for denying countless veterans treatment in the sole effort to appear more efficient. According to a former employee, VA staff were required to destroy medical documents in order to eliminate backlogged requests.
All caught on tape–via an audio recording–the former employee, Oliver Mitchell, is heard discussing with his superior on how to handle the lengthy backlog that was resulting in patients not receiving treatment until months later. According to Mitchell, a Marine veteran himself, “The committee was called System Redesign and the purpose of the meeting was to figure out ways to correct the department’s efficiency. And one of the issues at the time was the backlog.”
Explaining the root of the problem he states, “We just didn’t have the resources to conduct all of those exams. Basically we would get about 3,000 requests a month for [medical] exams, but in a 30-day period we only had the resources to do about 800. That rolls over to the next month and creates a backlog.” Mitchell went on to further describe, “It’s a numbers thing. The waiting list counts against the hospitals efficiency. The longer the veteran waits for an exam that counts against the hospital as far as productivity is concerned.”
Destroy the backlogged requests so that it appeared the VA was operating more efficiently than it actually was. Mitchell conveyed that some veterans were, “waiting six to nine months for an exam,” and VA administrators, “didn’t know how to address the issue.” So they decided the best way to approach the issue was to make it disappear entirely resulting in the denial of medical services to countless waiting veterans.
At one point during the recording a male official said,“I’m still canceling orders from 2001,” showing just how long some of these veterans were waiting for service–hope whatever test they requested wasn’t to diagnose something life threatening.
The female administrator later informs everyone attending the meeting that, “Anything over a year old should be canceled.” In an attempt to verify her exactly what she meant, a man inquires, “Canceled or scheduled?” She confirms her initial statement inputting a bit of illogical reasoning saying, “Canceled. … Your backlog should start at April ’07,” the female official replied, later adding, ”a lot of those patients either had their studies somewhere else, had their surgery … died, don’t live in the state. … It’s ridiculous.”
She’s exactly right–backlogs resulting in our veterans being denied medical treatment entirely let alone for 8 months is ridiculous. If anyone deserves anything from our country, it is our veterans, and knowing that hospital administrators are refusing our heroes the treatment they need to make themselves look better isn’t just disgusting, its immoral.
Mitchell ended up not only being transferred from his position for trying to expose the corruption, but was eventually terminated as the VA sought to “cover up” its actions. At first Mitchell explains that he filed a complaint with the VA Inspector General, or IG, detailing a list of over 1,000 names of those responsible dating back to 1997.
He says, “The IG instead of doing their own investigation just gave it to the facility and made them aware of my complaint.” Seeing how nothing was being done, as the VA tried to keep the incident quiet, Mitchell wrote a letter to Congress informing them of the VA’s actions. Subsequently, just two months later, he was terminated.
The VA then came out saying that they were destroying backlogged requests, but only those that had been discovered to no longer be necessary. They conveyed that all requests of relevant and still necessary tests, weren’t destroyed, but Mitchell argues otherwise.
He relayed, “That was an excuse,” part of a “cover-up,” and has since filed a lawsuit suing the VA for wrongful termination.
Let us know what you think of what the VA did in a comment below!