VA Hospital in Jackson Still Deficient

PRESS RELEASE

JACKSON, Miss. — The Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Jackson, Mississippi, is deficient both in providing appropriate patient care and in responding to identified problems, according to a letter sent yesterday to President Obama from Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner. The letter is a statutorily mandated report on the status of disclosures from two physicians at the Medical Center, a current primary care doctor and a retired ophthalmologist with knowledge of radiology issues.

The whistleblowers referenced in the letter are the fourth and fifth of seven Jackson VA employees in four years to disclose wrongdoing to the Office of Special Counsel (OSC). Past disclosures include the use of dirty, rust-stained instruments and other unsterilized medical equipment, incorrect sterilization procedures in the Medical Center and inaccurate statements to the public and Congress about problems at the Medical Center.

Allegations referenced include the following:

• Nurse practitioners lacking required licensure to prescribe narcotics in violation of state and/or federal law. Once the DEA discovered this and disallowed it, the VA pressured physicians to approve all nurse practitioners’ prescriptions without evaluating the patient in question. The VA confirmed these allegations and said reform is underway.

• Chronic understaffing in the Primary Care Unit threatens patient safety. The VA substantiated the understaffing but refuted any impact on patient care.

• Due to staffing shortages, nurse practitioners lack state-required supervision by a physician. The VA confirmed that this was true for some nurse practitioners and said reform is proceeding.

• A radiologist failed to read thousands of images or misread them, leading to missed diagnoses. Medical records were falsified to cover up these errors. Management knew of these problems and did not notify patients or require a full review of the images in question. While the VA conceded that the peer review process was substandard, it did not substantiate the allegations, citing reviews of a very small fraction of the thousands of images in question.

The letter also noted that in the midst of the agency’s own investigation into these practices, the director of the Jackson VA publicly stated that “the findings did not impact patient care,” despite the agency’s own admission that the impact to patients can be determined only through additional investigation.

“The agency’s response to these and other cases is inadequate,” said Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner. “In an era of thousands of returning service members, it is crucial that the VA provide appropriate care to veterans.”

OSC requested an update from the VA within 60 days.

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  • LES

    ROUND TWO!! I CALLED TODAY TO FOUND OUT WHY SO LONG TO GET MY GLASSES, IT WAS ALREADY 6 WEEKS ,THEY SAID THERE WAS NO ORDERS IN MY RECORDS THEY DIDN’T GET THE SCRIPT/FAX FROM THE EYE CLINIC, I CALLED THE EYE CLINIC WAS ON THE PHONE WITH THEM , THE V.A. CALLS AND THEY TOLD ME THEY JUST GOT IT. BUSTED LYING TO A PATIENT ! I CALL V.A. PATIENT ADVOCATES OFFICE AGAIN, THE CONNECTED ME TO THE GUY THAT PLACES THE ORDERS AND HE TELLS ME HE STILL HAS NOT GOT THE FAX YET! I’VE BEEN TO FOUR OTHER V.A.’S RALEIGH DURHAM NC. SALISBURY NC, COLORADO V.A. & MEMPHIS V.A. THE JAX..V.A IS BY FAR THE WORSE I HAVE EVER HAD TO EXPERIENCE .

  • LES

    HELL I CAME OUT OF ANTITHESES,DURING A PROCEDURE,TOLD THEM (SCREAMED) I WAS AWAKE,THEY WERE HURTING ME! THEY JUST KEPT GOING . I COMPLAINED TO THE PATIENT ADVOCATE. NEVER HEARD ANYTHING BACK.

  • jrgregg

    Glad to hear something is being at least looked at. The primary care clinics are so understaffed that the patients in the Primary Care Blue Clinic stand up and complain loudly at times to the nurses and clerks in the waiting room. I have seen a diabetic man waiting for more than 4 hours without having eaten all day, and then being sent home because there was no doctor to see him. At the same time we were waiting on a doctor for hours and she never showed up. We were sent home and told they would call in some medicine for us. They have no permanent doctor in the Blue Clinic and furthermore can not get a doctor to stay more than 4 weeks and some stay only 2 weeks. Something is wrong with this picture.