VA memo: No evidence of "secret waiting lists" at Northwest hospitals

Staff writerMay 28, 2014 

A nationwide audit of VA record-keeping did not turn up evidence of doctored reports on patient wait times at hospitals in four Northwest sates, according to an email sent earlier this month to VA employees.

The May 19 memo from Veterans Affairs Northwest Director Lawrence Carroll followed a visit by VA auditors investigating allegations that VA staffers in Arizona and other states falsified official reports on the average time patients spent waiting for medical appointments.

Carroll’s memo indicates VA staffers in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington accurately reported wait times.

“The audit teams found no evidence of secret waiting lists,” Carroll wrote. “Rather it was confirmed, that on the whole, staff understood what they needed to do in regards to scheduling and managing wait times.”

VA Puget Sound spokesman Chad Hutson told The News Tribune last week that the audit did not turn up doctored reports at VA hospitals in Lakewood and Seattle. Those hospitals are part of the VA branch that reports to Carroll.

The VA aims to see patients within two weeks of a request for an appointment. In Phoenix, VA staffers hid requests for appointments from official records until they could report that patients received care within 14 days of contacting the hospital, according to a preliminary audit released today.

Carroll on May 9 urged VA Northwest employees to be candid with auditors who visited the hospitals between May 12 and 19.

 

“We continue, and will continue, to report the actual number of veterans waiting for care, regardless of whether or not our results meet national performance measures,” he wrote. 

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