Report: LR VA Hospital Manipulated Wait Times to Disguise Long Delays for Veterans

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - The VA Medical Center in Little Rock manipulated wait times to hide long delays for veterans who had appointments scheduled with the hospital, according to a report from the VA Office of Inspector General. 

The report was released on Tuesday and details the Office of Inspector General's investigation into the Little Rock VA Medical Center. 

The office said it received information from a whistleblower complaint that accused the medical center of inappropriate scheduling practices. 

In response to the complaint, the office conducted interviews with 13 medical center employees and reviewed employee training records, employee emails and the VA scheduling policy, officials said. 

The investigation found that employees (including supervisors) were "improperly scheduling patient appointments by manipulating the appointment dates in the VA computer system," the report states. This resulted in the appearance of significantly lower wait times for veterans' clinical appointments. 

The report also states that during interviews, two supervisors "displayed a lack of candor" when they were asked about their knowledge or participation in the manipulation of patient waiting times. 

After the investigation was concluded, the VA Office of Inspector General turned over its findings to the VA Office of Accountability Review. The investigation was submitted on February 24, officials said. 

Sen. John Boozman, R-Arkansas, released the following statement after learning of the investigation:

"Our veterans have earned the best quality health care and they deserve to know that when they go to a VA facility they have access to the services they need. I’m pleased to see that CAVHS has made the necessary changes to comply with VA policy to ensure our veterans receive timely care." 

Rep. French Hill, R-Arkansas, released the following statement: 

"There is a simple solution to this problem, not just here in Little Rock, but throughout the entire VA system. Those who work at VA and do not act in the best interest of our veterans need to be appropriately disciplined for their actions. Ending the pervasive lack of accountability at VA is the reason why I cosponsored H.R. 1994, the VA Accountability Act of 2015. This legislation would give the VA Secretary the authority to fire corrupt or incompetent employees for cause. Removing bad actors from the system will not just help ensure veterans get timelier access to care, but it will also protect the reputation of the many hardworking employees that embody the core mission of VA by working tirelessly on behalf of our veterans."


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