Back in 2011, economics Nobel laureate and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman wrote that the Veterans Affairs healthcare system is a “huge policy success story, which offers important lessons for future health reform.”
It’s not hard to agree with the latter part of his statement, in the sense that it tells us what not to do. A VA Inspector General report last year found 307,000 records belonging to veterans who had died months or years in the past. Not all were seeking health services, but it shows just how inefficient the system is for veterans to get anything. There are a number of stories of veterans committing suicide in the parking lots of VA hospitals after being turned away for care.
The VA became a subject of scandal after news broke there was a systemic attempt to manipulate the data regarding their wait times to cover up their true length. They’ve continued to remain in the headlines since then, and wait ’til you hear their latest screw-up…
Via WEAU 13 News:
Nearly 600 veterans who received care at the Tomah VA may have been infected with several types of disease due to violations in infection control procedures. VA administrators made the announcement Tuesday afternoon at a press conference.
The Tomah VA says it’s in the process of notifying 592 veterans that they may be infected with Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, or HIV after they received care from one particular dental provider.
Acting Medical Center Director Victoria Brahm said the dentist was using his own equipment, then cleaning it and reusing it, which violates the VA’s regulations.
The VA says he did this for one year, from October 2015 through October 2016. It came to light when someone filling in for his assistant noticed what was going on and reported it.
Because this is the government (where nobody gets fired), the dentist has been removed from patient care and is now working in an administrative role.
The VA is offering free screenings to those veterans affected and will provide free medical treatment to those who test positive for an infection, but given their wait times, we’ll see how long until they get that help…
[Note: This post was authored by Matt Palumbo. Follow him on Twitter @MattPalumbo12]