Veterans Waiting For VA Care Left In Worse Condition

NORTH TEXAS (CBS 11 News) – Texas veterans with cancer were among those left with a higher risk of dying because of delays in routine screenings from the Veterans Health Administration.

The disclosures were revealed as part of a national review of delayed consults that has resulted in at least 19 deaths nationwide.

At least 7 veterans in Texas were told they were part of a group with an advance in disease because of delays getting colonoscopies and endoscopies. They are part of a larger group of 82 veterans affected nationwide, according to an internal document first reported by CNN.

The review came after facilities in South Carolina and Georgia suggested a large number of consults had not been completed. The Texas notifications happened within the Heart of Texas Health Care Network, which includes facilities in Temple, San Antonio and Harlingen. The VA North Texas Health Care System would not say specifically where the delays occurred. The review only covers cases from 2010 and 2011.

A statement from the VA read in part, “We have redesigned the consult process to better monitor consult timeliness.  We continue to take action to strengthen oversight mechanisms and prevent a similar delay at another VA medical center.”

The notifications of the delays happened at the same time the I-Team asked Director Jeff Milligan about delays in treatment for cardiac patients. Milligan said at the time he believed the cases were isolated.

The VA in North Texas also worked last year to resolve a backlog of more than 36,000 consults. By October the number had been reduced to about 5,600 consults more than 90 days old.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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