309 Hoosier veterans could receive new TBI exams after VA error

Veterans Affairs
(WISH Photo/ Doug Moon)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — More than 300 Indiana veterans are eligible to receive a new traumatic brain injury exam, VA officials confirmed to I-Team 8 Thursday.

The move came after VA officials admitted they made a mistake by not closely monitoring which doctors performed the exams. The VA’s own rules dictate that a psychologist, psychiatrist, neurosurgeon or neurologist must give the initial TBI exams. After an internal investigation, the VA determined it should offer roughly 24,000 veterans nationwide a new TBI exam. Letters were sent out to veterans around July 1. Veterans who qualify have exactly one year to take advantage of the new testing, VA officials announced.

The decision follows a series of reports a Minneapolis TV station uncovered that show hundreds of veterans may have been misdiagnosed by practitioners who were not qualified to perform the exams.

According to the Veterans Benefits Administration, 309 Hoosier veterans are eligible for new exams.

“There is no indication — or a very little indication — that misdiagnoses occurred. But we don’t want to take any chances. But we don’t want to take any chances and we want to assure that the exams are done consistently by the same group of specialists,” Dr. Brian Hancock, the director of the Indianapolis VA Roudebush Medical Center, told I-Team 8.

But other published reports cited examples to the contrary. I-Team 8 posed the questions to VA officials in Indianapolis launching a nationwide public relations campaign to spread the word about how the VA has improved patient wait times, increased staff and cut down on other bureaucratic issues plaguing veterans.

“Every day our goal is to honor American heroes,” Dr. Brian Hancock told reporters Thursday at the Indianapolis VA Roudebush Medical Center.

“While we have accomplished much in regards to the original claims, the greatest obstacle we are facing is a backlog in our appellate workload,” Terria Dowdy with the Indianapolis VA Regional Office told I-Team 8.

At the time, Dowdy could not confirm the number of Hoosiers who might affected. I-Team 8 later learned the number was 309.

If you are an Indiana veteran who received this letter or believe you should be entitled to a new TBI exam, please email I-Team 8 reporter Bennett Haeberle at bennett.haeberle@wishtv.com or call the I-Team 8 tipline at 317-956-8850.

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