VA Hospital Delays Are Killing Veterans

Report obtained by CNN shows at least 19 dead due to lengthy waits

By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 31, 2014 7:51 AM CST

(Newser) – Some pretty grim news courtesy of a Veterans Affairs internal report on patients diagnosed with cancer in 2010 and 2011 that CNN obtained: Delays at VA hospitals are killing veterans. At least 19 have died because of delays in medical screenings; they're part of a group of 82 vets who have either died or are dying because of belated diagnosis or treatment due to delayed colonoscopies or endoscopies, the report explains. Disclosures have been sent to a number of vets or their families, including in South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and Texas, alerting them that they had serious "adverse events" because of delayed or denied care or diagnosis, the report states.

One 44-year-old veteran CNN spoke with said he begged for a colonoscopy appointment after his excruciating pain and rectal bleeding was misdiagnosed as hemorrhoids, and ultimately got one—months out. "I could be even dead by then," he told the VA to no avail. What doctors eventually discovered, roughly a year after he first sought treatment? A baseball-sized, cancerous tumor; he's now undergoing chemotherapy. "The fact that we've had veterans who have died in the very facilities that are supposed to be taking care of them ... by means that could have been prevented is egregious," the chief of the House VA Committee said, adding no one has been fired or demoted over the delays—some may even have gotten bonuses. Per a rep for the VA: "We have redesigned the consult process to better monitor consult timeliness." Click for CNN's full report.

A sign on the parking lot is seen at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Pittsburgh on   Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013.
A sign on the parking lot is seen at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Pittsburgh on Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013.   (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
A sign on the parking lot is seen at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Pittsburgh on   Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013.
A sign on the parking lot is seen at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Pittsburgh on Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013.   (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
Retired Lt. Col. Kurt Kosmatka, 50, is interviewed at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Washington, Monday, Nov. 9, 2009.
Retired Lt. Col. Kurt Kosmatka, 50, is interviewed at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Washington, Monday, Nov. 9, 2009.   (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
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