Over 1,000 veterans may have died at VA hospitals

Veterans Affairs
(WISH Photo/ Doug Moon)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) –  A new investigation by an Oklahoma politician uncovered more than 1,000 veterans may have died within the VA hospitals in the last decade.  I-Team 8’s chief investigative reporter Karen Hensel read through the 124-page report.

The report released Tuesday afternoon showed bad VA care may have killed 1,000 veterans.  The year-long investigation of VA hospitals around the country blames the deaths on malpractice and lack of care from VA medical facilities.  Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn released the new oversight report “Friendly Fire: Death, Delay and Dismay at the VA.”

Coburn, a medical doctor, says the report shows the problems at the VA are worse than anyone imagined.  He found the VA has paid out nearly $1 billion to veterans and their families for its medical malpractice.  Key findings include cover-ups and sexual harassment by VA officials, criminal activity by VA employees,  $20 billion in waste and mismanagement.

I-Team 8 investigations found the scheduling and secret wait times at VA hospitals had been known since at least 2010.  We uncovered and asked the House Veterans Affairs committee about a memo sent in April 2010 listing “inappropriate scheduling” and “gaming strategies”.  Now we learn VA management knew about it for six years, not four.

The report points to what one of our many I-Team 8 investigations exposed last year which is veterans in Indianapolis were waiting 612 days to have their disability benefits claims processed at the regional office.

The scandal over delays in medical care took center stage Monday night in a late night hearing on Capitol Hill.  VA officials were blasted over the treatment of veterans.

One lawmaker said “The reality is you’re not outraged!!”.  That’s when the VA official replied “I think it is a good system.”  The lawmaker got angry saying “It’s not a good system.” Then the lawmaker retorted “Really? Not if you’re a veteran.”

In a long-term mental health facility in Brockton, Massachusetts one veteran had his first mental health evaluation 8 years after he moved in.  Another veteran waited 7 years.

The inspector general is investigating 70 VA facilities.  Roudebush in Indianapolis is one of the facilities flagged to be re-inspected.

Three new hearings have been called in Washington, D.C. for next week into the VA.

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