VA has failed to properly address problems at vet facility, OSC reports

The Department of Veterans Affairs has failed to properly respond to serious problems that threaten patient safety at a VA hospital in Jackson, Miss., according to a new report from a federal watchdog agency.

(Charles Dharapak/AP) - Department of Veterans Affairs headquarters. (Charles Dharapak/AP) – Department of Veterans Affairs headquarters.

The report, to be released Wednesday afternoon by the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, deals with allegations from a whistle blower that the hospital is chronically understaffed and violating federal rules on prescribing narcotics. A copy of the OSC report  was obtained by The Washington Post.

“Throughout this process, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has consistently failed to take responsibility for identified problems,” Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner said in the report sent to President Obama. “Even in cases of substantiated misconduct, including acknowledged violations of state and federal law, the VA routinely suggests that the problems do not affect patient care.”

The VA, which conducted its own investigations substantiating problems at the Jackson facility, has said that reforms are being made at the facility.

In her report, Lerner said “the agency did not indicate that any actions were taken to hold accountable management officials who contributed to and approved of these chronic problems.”

At a hearing last week, House Veterans Affairs’ Committee Chairman Jeff Miller, (R-Fla.), complained that the VA has not held managers accountable for problems at its facilities.

OSC requested that the VA provide an update within 60 days.

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Eric Yoder · September 18, 2013