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Long Wait-Times at VA Hospitals Haven’t Improved


April 14, 2015 — An investigation by the Associated Press has found that wait times are not improving at Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals, especially those located in the South.

Last year, a similar investigation found that many veterans had to wait months to get an appointment, even for cancer biopsies and other critical care. Congress approved $16.3 billion to help the VA hire more doctors, open more clinics, and implement a program to help veterans seek private-sector care.

Despite these efforts, the AP investigation found that average wait times have not budged. The blame largely falls on a small fraction of hospitals.

From August 1, 2014 until February 28, 2015, wait-times for nearly 874,000 appointments exceeded 30 days. In over 25% of those appointments, wait-times exceeded 60 days.

Out of 75 hospitals with the highest percentage of appointments that exceeded 30 days, 47 hospitals were located in rural areas, states in the South, and regions with high military populations.

According to the AP:

“Those 47 clinics and hospitals represent just a fraction of the more than 1,000 VA facilities nationwide, but they were responsible for more than one in five of the appointments that took longer than 60 days to complete.”

VA Hospital Hit With $21 Million Malpractice Verdict

The VA Medical Center in Manchester, New Hampshire has been ordered to pay a $21 million malpractice award to a 60 year-old Navy veteran who is now trapped inside his own body after suffering two strokes.

The veteran was treated at the hospital after his first stroke, but sent home with instructions to take two baby aspirin per day. Six weeks later, he had another stroke in the same area of his brain and was left paralyzed with “locked-in syndrome.”

The hospital was accused of negligence for failing to prescribe him Coumadin, a standard blood-thinning medication that helps prevent blood clots that cause stroke.

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