Report: Critical Treatment Delays at VA Hospital

8:02 AM, Nov 21, 2013   |    comments
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Dorn VA Medical Center

Columbia, SC (WLTX) - A Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General report details problems with delays in treatment at the William Jennings Bryan Dorn VA Medical Center.

According to the report, patients were experiencing delays receiving gastroenterology consultations. In July of 2011, 2,500 patients were waiting to see a doctor, and 700 of them were in critical condition.

The report listed several factors for the delay, including the following:

  • Not hiring gastrointestinal nurses timely
  • Low-risk patients being referred for colonoscopies, which increased demand
  • Critical facility leadership position were being filled by managers who often had other duties and differing priorities

A funding request was made at that time and the Dorn VA was awarded $1.2 million for fee colonoscopies in September 2011.

However, by December, the report said the backlog of patients was at 3,800. A review found that 280 patients were diagnosed with gastrointestinal cancer, 52 of which were associated with having to wait for treatment. 

According to the report, 19 of those patients conditions resulted in death or serious injury to those Veterans.

The facility gave out 19 notices to patients that an event that happened during their care could result in either death or serious injury.

As of May 2013, nine patients and or their families had filed lawsuits.

For the full report click here.

Tuesday, the Department of Veterans Affairs sent out a release and said the VA Dorn Hospital was named one of the 'top performers.'

The recognition came from The Joint Commission, a not-for-profit organization that said they ensure the of U.S. health care by its intensive evaluation of more than 20,000 health care organizations.

According to The Joint Commission website they look at hospitals who meet four criteria measuers including research, proximity, accuracy, and adverse effects to determine top performing hospitals.

Dorn spokesman Kevin McIver said the consultation delay has since been resolved by hiring additional staff to meet the demand for services and implementing a system to track care to make sure timely care is provided.

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