Baldwin Joins Bipartisan Call to Action for Better Patient Safety and Oversight at VA Facilities
Senators demand answers following cases of inadequate care or mistreatment of veterans at VA medical facilities across the country
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin joined nine of her colleagues led by Senators Jon Tester (D-MT) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) in calling for action following alarming incidents of veterans receiving inadequate care or mistreatment at the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) medical facilities.
In a letter to VA Secretary Wilkie, the Senators voiced their concerns over serious, high-profile cases of veteran abuse and employee misconduct within VA facilities across the country.
“We are concerned about systemic issues that may be present within VA, affecting veterans’ ability to receive high-quality, timely health care,” stressed the Senators. “We write with specific examples from Department facilities, in addition to questions for VA on how to ensure these incidents are not repeated at any other VA facility and protocols are put in place to safeguard patient care system-wide. The Department must get a handle on its shortcomings so that veterans feel safe using its facilities and providers choose it as a place to practice medicine.”
Multiple incidents in recent months have exposed serious lapses in quality of care for veterans nationwide. Earlier this year, a twice-suspended VA physician in Arkansas was charged with involuntary manslaughter in three patient deaths that were due to incorrect or misleading diagnoses. In West Virginia, allegations of patient homicides surfaced, launching an investigation into the murders that took place at the Clarksburg VA Medical Center after the deaths of multiple veterans from hypoglycemia. In Georgia, a veteran receiving end-of-life care at the VA Eagles’ Nest Community Living Center suffered more than 100 ant bites on his body after he was left unattended and his room became infested by ants.
In response to these disturbing reports, the Senators demanded immediate attention to address systemic issues and prevent incidents of mistreatment and abuse in the future. They called on the Department to implement protocols in order to safeguard patient care writing: “Veterans must have confidence that when they turn to the Department for health care services that the individuals charged with caring for them are monitored and held accountable for their actions. VA needs to take action system-wide to ensure that a protocol is in place for reviewing providers’ fitness to care for patients, flagging concerns, and restricting providers from modifying their records to conceal mistakes.”
The Senators’ letter highlighted main areas of concerns at the Department, including Quality of Care Controls, Credentialing and Privileging, Whistleblowing, Drug Monitoring and Reporting, Facility Conditions, and VA Leadership Vacancies.
In addition to Senators Baldwin, Tester and Moran, the letter was signed by Senators Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Bob Casey (D-PA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Tom Cotton (R-AK), and Pat Roberts (R-KS).
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