VA Fact Checks Record Management Allegation



You may have seen recent news coverage alleging the mishandling of patient records by a VA medical facility in 2008. Some media reports on this issue have been inaccurate.

VA did not destroy patients’ personal medical records in VA’s electronic health record system, which has been in place since the 1990s.

The Department of Veterans Affairs cares deeply for every Veteran we are privileged to serve. Our goal is to provide the best quality, safe and effective health care our Veterans have earned and deserve. VA has established a record of safe, exceptional health care that is consistently recognized by independent reviews and organizations.

Under Secretary for Health Dr. Robert Petzel addressed questions from members of the House of Representatives today on this topic saying, “There was no attempt to eliminate records.” and that several hundred records were properly closed only after a thorough administrative review.

The Greater Los Angeles VA Medical did identify that there were large numbers of very old imaging requests in the system. As part of appropriate patient care processes and in accordance with nationally established VA guidelines, the medical center performed a carefully planned project of administratively clearing old imaging requests after an extensive review of each individual request. At no time were “group” close-outs of imaging studies completed.

If patients do not show for their appointment or do not respond to scheduling attempts, orders are eventually discontinued after 12 calendar months. This is in accordance with VA guidance. Any study older than a year would no longer have clinical relevance and patients would need to be reevaluated by their providers prior to performing the study. In no instance was a study not completed because of a scheduling issue.

Reasons for studies not being completed included:

  • Studies had been ordered when patients were inpatients but they had been discharged and did not follow-up at the Greater Los Angeles VA Medical Center
  • Studies were ordered out of the emergency department on patients who were from out of town and who did not return for follow-up
  • Studies were no longer clinically relevant because patients had had other evaluations that obviated the need for the imaging study yet the request was not deleted
  • Patients had not returned calls to schedule or did not show for the scheduled study
  • Patients were no longer in the system.

America’s Veterans deserve the very best this nation can offer to honor their service and sacrifice. VA employees — nearly one-third of whom are Veterans themselves — care deeply for every Veteran we are privileged to serve.

What Veterans do not deserve is misinformation and distortions that may cause them to avoid seeking earned services and benefits. They deserve facts.

Military Times has more on today’s House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Health hearing here.

Dr. Dean C. Norman has served as Chief of Staff for the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System (GLA) since 1999, and has served Veterans throughout his medical career.  He has been on the medical staff of the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center and a member of UCLA faculty since July of 1983, when he joined the staff of Geriatric Research Education and Clinic Center (GRECC) as Assistant Clinical Director and UCLA Assistant Professor of Medicine.  In addition to managing all of GLA’s clinical, educational, and research operations, Dr. Norman has also served as Adjunct Professor of Medicine at UCLA since 1999.

Author

Dean Norman MD

Comments

  1. Dan F    

    Yes, this is the same Los Angeles VA center that according to the LA Times, and I quote:

    In August, a federal judge ruled that the VA had misused the West L.A. campus by leasing some of the property to UCLA, the Brentwood School, a hotel laundry service and other groups for activities and services that have nothing to do with the federal agency’s mandate to provide healthcare to veterans. The suit, brought by a group of severely disabled homeless veterans and the Vietnam Veterans of America, sought to compel the VA to stop being the neighborhood landlord and start taking care of its homeless veterans. Although the judge dismissed the call for permanent housing and ruled only on the impropriety of the leases, it was a win for the homeless veterans; at that point, the VA should have declined to appeal the ruling and worked to reach a settlement with the plaintiffs. Instead, it announced that it intends to appeal.”

    So what makes you (the VA) think you have any credibility when it comes to explaining your position on this news story? As to your excuses, is there any notes in the files where VA personnel followed up with the veteran for the exact reason the veteran didn’t get the tests ordered? Most of your arguments are weak. You state it would be impossible to erase a record and then go on to say, the veteran is no longer in the system. How does that happen? Most likely there were many who just gave up waiting and went to see a private doctor or died waiting. When tests are ordered and it takes months before they are scheduled, what do you think happens? I would love to see a comparison to civilian hospitals….do you dare?

  2. thomas gomez sr    

    WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM FOX NEWS!!! WHEN I HERD THIS STORY. SURE I GOT UPSET FOR A MINUTE. THEN I THOUGHT. THIS CANT BE TRUE!.. I SENT THEM A SUPPORTING E MAIL OF THE VA! BUT YA KNOW WHY THEY WILL NEVER READ OUR SUPPORT E MAILS ON THE AIR? BECAUSE NO MATTER WHAT! ALL THEY WANT TO DO IS BASH OUR PRESIDENT AND OUR GOVERNMENT! AND YOU SEE. I WAS RIGHT IN MY THINKING…. NO MATTER HOIW MANY GOOD THINGS THE PRESIDENT DOES. NO MATTER HOW MUCH THE VA AND OUR GOVERNMENT LOVES ITS VETERANS!!! SOME OF THESE NEWS OUTLETS ARE JUST GOING TO KEEP TRYING TO DISTROY EVERY GOOD THING THEY DO!! I E MAILD FOX NEWS AND SAID. WE ARE THE BEST TREATED VETERANS IN THE WORLD!! AND THE VA TAKES REAL GOOD CARE OF ME!! I LOVE MY DOCTORS AND NURSES! IM ALWAYS TREATED WITH RESPECT!!!. I TOLD THEM . HOSPITALS AROUND THE COUNTRY CAN LEARN ALLOT FROM THE DOCS AND NURSES AT THE VA CLINICS AND HOSPITALS! I TOLD THEM YOU THE VA REALEY TRULY CARE ABOUT US!! THAT I NEVER HAD THIS LEVEL OF GOOD CARE IN ALL MY LIFE!! SO DON’T LISTEN TO THEM OUT THERE VETERANS!! THEY GOT THIS THING WITH THE PRESIDENT. I DON’T KNOW WHY…. ME? I LIKE HIM HE IS FOR THE PEOPLE!! AND IF I SUFFER FOR SAYING THAT. FINE!!!. GOD BLESS AMERICA!!! AND AGAIN! THANK YOU VA FOR THE GREAT CARE AND RESPECT YOU GIVE ALL THE VETERANS. AND PEOPLE NEED TO UNDERSTAND! WHEN YOU OVERWELMD YA JUST CANT TRAVEL AT THE SAME SPEED. WAIT YOIUR TURN SOLDIER. TOMAS GOMEZ SR LAST 4 # 7340

    1. Dan F    

      Thomas- First of all, you really are annoying by typing in all caps. Secondly, you may think your care is great, many veterans do. HOWEVER, it all depends on what VA you go to and who are the caregivers. I know specific cases of veterans who have died because of lack of care, as well as many who were misdiagnosed and harmed by VA treatment.

      Yes, they are overwhelmed. There is a very simple solution to the problem. If the VA cannot perform the service within a reasonably short time, they should authorize care through the private sector.

      You also probably don’t have to drive 140 miles and 2 1/2 hours to receive care. You want to be a cheerleader for the president and Shinseki? It is your right to your own opinion. You don’t have the right to your own facts.

  3. Ronald P. Matonti    

    How can I get adequate proper heart healthcare? The Northport VAMC dr. shenyi peng caused the heart problem by misdiagnosis,mistreatment and the wrong medications. The Northport VAMC does not have adequate heart healthcare and does not do even simple heart procedures nor any operations. The Stonybrook State hospital is right near me and has state of the art heart healthcare but the director of the Northport VAMC refuses to allowe me to go there? What is my course of action?

    1. mel paul    

      when you sign up for va services you were informed that unless an emergency care by non va facilities are not covered.
      for seniors enrolled in medicare you should know that medicare cannot be involved in your va medical care
      to answer your question –go to stony brook state hospital with your own insurance or as a non paying patient. .good luck

    2. Dan F    

      Ronald – If you have proof the doctor misdiagnosed you and has caused your health to deteriorate due to that misdiagnosis you can file a claim for benefits of what ever you are diagnosed with at this time. Find a VSO to help you with the claim.

      As to getting immediate treatment, make a complaint to the Director of the VISN who controls that hospital and I would also contact my Congressman. Lay out the facts and request you be seen by an outside doctor. This is a quote from the VA: “If a Veteran is eligible for certain medical care, the VA hospital or clinic should provide it as the first option. If they can’t — due to a lack of available specialists, long wait times, or extraordinary distances from the Veteran’s home — the VA may consider Non-VA Care in the Veteran’s community. Non-VA Care is not an entitlement program or a permanent treatment option.”

      They may also wish to send you to a VA hospital that can handle your case. For instance people at my VAMC in Wilkes Barre Pennsylvania are sent to Manhattan. Only a 3 hour drive.

  4. C Boyle    

    Name ONE thing Good this President had done?
    What about all those scandals that isn’t being addressed.?
    What about the unemployment of the millions of people?
    What about the 200,000 dollars he has spent for vacations?
    What about the Attorney General not responding to Congressional subpoenas ?
    What about the enormous debt?
    What about controlling the press with the FCC placing monitors in news bureaus?
    What about people losing their medical coverage? And costing 2 and 3 times more for those that have medical coverage?
    And on and on. Yeah right, he is for the people.

    What about………………..on and on…………….
    Yeah right, he is for the people.

    1. bg7241    

      I totally agree with your comments. As a disabled vet I do get great care at my local VAMC. However, if this spineless man we have as a CIC had any cajones, we wouldn’t have lost the life of four brave warrior in Bengazi!

  5. JUAN NUNEZ    

    I SAY ATTENTSION THE NEW YORK HARBOR MEDICAL CENTER IS PRO VET.
    MY PRIMARY DOCTOR IS TOP NOTCH SHE STAYS ON TOP OF MY WELLBEING.
    I USE THE MYHEALTHEVET WEB SITE ANY REQUEST OR QUESTION THAT I POST
    IS ADDRESSED AND ANSWERED BY PHONE OR SECURE MESSAGE NO LATER
    THEN THE FOLOWING DAY BUT USEALLY THE SAME DAY AND I MEAN MOST OFTHE TIME WITHIN AN HOUR OR SO!!!!!!!!!!!!
    SO FROM MY END THE BEST MEDICAL CENTER IS BY FAR NEW YORK HARBOR!!!!!!!

    1. Norm W    

      That’s funny that you were allowed to use the secure messaging on MyHealthEVet; because I was informed that it was for emergency contact ONLY and never again to send a message to my primary care doctor or her nurse unless it fell within those guidelines. I guess service goes from one extreme to the other in VA hospitals and clinics.

      1. Theresa    

        My HealtheVet’s Secure Messaging was designed to provide for convenient communications between Veterans and all VA health care teams. It is NOT meant to be used for emergency communications. Please contact your local VA medical center My HealtheVet coordinator for clarification — they are there to serve you.

        Veterans can use secure messaging to ask about their VA appointments, medications, and lab results or to have routine health questions answered. Users say that this kind of communication helps make their face-to-face VA appointments more productive.

        From one Veteran to another–secure messaging is another VA benefit that is yours to use — you have earned it.

      2. Elaine King    

        In Gainesville Florida, at the Malcolm Randall VAMC patients are authorized to use secure messaging to contact their primary care physicians at any time. Utilization protocols for secure messaging may vary by facility. I also receive an email on my iPhone notifying me when my primary care physician has sent me a secure message to myHealtheVet.

  6. Ralph Baxter    

    I retired in 2012 and have had nothing but good care from the Temple, TX VAHC. I also think my benefits were handled quickly (considering how many OIF/OEF Veterans there are) and fairly. I’ve taken the time to get to know my PCM and the folks at Waco regional and have no complaints.

  7. victor m. zavala    

    My Harlingen Texas VA refuse to refill my service connected Meds back in 2010 and deny my Torn Claim which went all the way to Washington DC. I submitted this case to my Commander In Chief, the President, and have not heard anything but from my State Senator and I just got a letter that he can no more assist me in this matter. I asked of him to ask for my file from VA Counsel at Washington DC area but I don’t think he did. I have been without my service connected Meds since 2010 and my assigned Doctor had never done a follow up appointment since 2010 till now. Now the VA tell me that I am not active…how that happen, don’t know.

  8. WG9/SGT Lester A Bacclay    

    When this President wants the VA hospitals to put us Military People All of us threw mental screening for what so our Constitutional militia weapons can be taken away. How much do you expect us to believe??? Records disappear all the time come on be honest and its not just because of this president. But we the Soldiers have much less to trust you about than we ever did before VA Hospital. I HAVE friends that work there they Served in the 73rd field Hospital with me. You want to win our confidence back SAY NO TO AN ILLEGAL DIRECT ORDER FROM THIS PRESIDENT. You have the discretion in Civil Service to do so. I was there I know what is in your United States Government OFFICER”s Oath and its not a NCO oath either. Its the same as a MILITARY OFFICER’S OATH. Why to protect our Constitution and OUR SOLDIERS FROM PEOPLE THAT DISRESPECT OUR CONSTITUTION.!!!!!!

  9. Norm W    

    The VA “DID” loose or “misplace” thousands of military documents for use in filing benefit claims and they can lie all they want to but I know better. I have heard every story in the book why military records cannot be obtained by veterans and some of you believe their BS.
    They are an agency of the US government and you honestly believe everything they tell you. Obviously you never worked NSA, NIA, ASA, CIA or any other intelligence agency that deals with the “real world” every day.

  10. Elaine King    

    I must agree with the comment about the VA “losing/misplacing” personnel files and records. I filed a disability claim and my records are now conveniently “missing”, so my claim has been denied. My Senator, sent a records request three times and I got this final reply: We have searched for your records. They are not here and will not be here if you request that we search for them in the future. Do not contact us again.”

    How do they KNOW they will not be there in the future? Maybe they are misfiled. I have this word for word in writing and it really makes me wonder…

    If they are the caretakers of the records, then *they* are accountable for ensuring the security of those records. If the records are “lost” while they are in the VA’s possession then the burden should be placed on them not me, the veteran. I think this is how the method they are using to eliminate their backlog of claims!

  11. George    

    Some VA can be good and some bad. Systems rise or fall on their people and management. When politics become a part of anything but elections, it typically falls apart. VA needs their own budget and be structured more realistically! Logistics is not up to date on providing good supplies that are up to date. There have been some steps forward and backward. But problems need to be addressed.

  12. John J    

    I requested a copy of treatment for a specified quarter and received another Veterans file. Name, date of birth, age, address and social security number. Everything I needed to steal this vets ID was sent to me by the Columbus Ohio VA Clinic. I filed a complaint with the release of information supervisor and asked for a review to find out who had gotten my information. There was no response from Columbus. I filed a complaint with the Patient Advocate. Again, no response. I sent copies to the Cincinnati VISN and the veteran whose file I had received. The response from VISN 10, contact the patient advocate in Columbus. What a waste of time and money. A year later, no one will address the lack of security in Coilumbus.

  13. Mick O'Malley    

    The Baltimore Maryland DVA under the ‘Directorship’ and behind the locked door’s of Dennis Smith, never has prioritized patient care. If I were to guess, I would say Smith’s background is in accounting – Budgeting +++$$$ brick and mortar to accommodate our growing population, parking, equipment, bonuses, NUCLEAR equipment needed for the U of MD. etc., but when patients have to wait six month’s for a ‘follow-up’, or ‘referral’ related to an EXISTING condition…well let’s just say this Medical Center would be out of business if not funded solely by taxpayers dollar’s. If the Inspector General ever did an UNANNOUNCED check up on the VA, and published it findings, heads would roll – of this I have little doubt! Why doesn’t the DVA allow volunteer “patient care monitors” (Veteran’s from within each clinic) to be appointed to observe, identify, & formally proffer possible remedies that would exorcise ‘demons’ that have forever plagued the system?
    O’Malley
    3234

  14. wifiunlocker666.shutterfly.com    

    He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen
    See him discussing internet and wireless security on Good Morning America.
    Once your device locks into Mysendmail, its SMTPsettings auto-sync at every network swop.

    Some research suggests that breast shells used on inverted
    nipples mayy actually hinder the mother’s ability to breastfeed successfully.
    Please take a look at these sites for more information &
    help inn protecting yourself and your PC:. By entering
    a Username and Password they can access their own account and
    by using yet another password can transfer money in or out off that account.

Comments are closed.