Whistleblowers around the country are now accusing the VA of hiding a backlog in patient care with bookkeeping tricks, and a former doctor at a VA facility in Arizona says the delays may have contributed to the deaths of 40 patients. Schoenhard then listed two dozen different tactics identified in a study that facilities around the country were using to cut down on the officially recorded time that patients had to wait for care.
The techniques included pretending that appointments cancelled by the clinic were cancelled by the patient, and refusing to schedule appointments for patients when there was no appointment available within 30 days. Patients were told to wait a month and then call back.
Two of the techniques described in the memo closely resemble the methods described by the whistleblowers who have gone public recently with claims that VA facilities have disguised actual patient waiting time. The memo discusses how a written appointment log book can be used to avoid entering long wait times into the electronic waiting list system, and forbids the use of any written log. Samuel Foote, the Arizona whistleblower, now says that as recently as the Phoenix VA was using paper records with actual patient wait times to avoid entering those wait times into the official electronic system.
The method closely resembles what whistleblower Brian Turner alleges occurred at VA facilities in Austin and San Antonio within the past year and a half.
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It also mirrors what a coordinator at a facility in Wyoming seems to be advising schedulers to do in an email from June Schoenhard also notes in the memo that employees continued to come up with new methods for gaming the system.
These practices will not be tolerated.
Three years later, after a GAO report spotlighting continuing problems with patient wait times, Schoenhard sent a second memo to VA facilities informing them of more tweaks to the scheduling process for new patients and for patients who were already in the system. This change in methodology will impact the reported performance results. But Dr.
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