New details released on Phoenix VA investigation - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

New details released on Phoenix VA investigation

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Richard Griffin Richard Griffin

CBS 5 News has a look inside the investigation happening at the Phoenix VA.

The man leading the charge said his team is working with federal prosecutors to determine if what they uncover warrants criminal charges.

Congress grilled the head of the Department of Veterans Affairs on Friday on claims of secret lists, long wait times and possible deaths as a result of the alleged practices.

Many of the claims come from in the Valley.

"My staff is working diligently to determine the facts of what happened at Phoenix and who is accountable," VA Action Inspector General Richard Griffin said.

Griffin told the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee he has the resources he needs and is confident in the team he has assembled.

"We are not going to rush to judgement at the sacrifice of quality. I know you're not suggesting that. We are going to nail this thing," Griffin said.

Griffin said his team will focus on two questions:

  • Did the facility's electronic waiting list purposely omit names of the vets waiting for care and if so under whose direction?
  • Were the deaths of any of those vets related to the delays in care?

Griffin also said the team has an exhaustive review underway involved the following elements:

  1. Interviewing staff with direct knowledge including scheduling clerks and whistle blower.
  2. Collecting and reviewing medical records VHA information tech systems enrollment and scheduling.
  3. Reviewing medical records of patients whose deaths may be related to delays in care.
  4. Reviewing performance ratings and awards of senior facility staff.
  5. Reviewing past and newly received complaints to the OIG hotline on delays in care as well as those complaints shared by media and Congress.
  6. Reviewing other prior reports related to these allegations including administrative boards of investigations or reports from VHA office of the medical inspector.
  7. Reviewing massive amounts of emails and other documents pertinent to this review.

Griffin, along with VA Secretary Eric Shinseki and a slew of others, answered questions from senators about the problems at VA health centers. But senators also gave them an earful of past problems discovered at the VA that have not been addressed and continue to this day.

Several senators quoted from prior inspector general reports that found staffers were cooking the books and manipulating wait times to meet performance goals.

That's what's alleged to have happened in Phoenix, and Griffin said he believes they will find proof.

"It's not a new issue and I'm confident that when we finish our work in Phoenix, it'll be the same outcome as these previous reports," Griffin said.

When asked directly about how many people Griffin has identified as having died while waiting for care, Griffin said there is still a lot of work to do and while they have found people who have died waiting on these so-called secret lists, they cannot yet directly attribute any of their deaths to the delay in care.

VA officials said the VA has the largest integrated healthcare system in the U.S. with 150 medical centers, serving more than 6.5 million veterans a year.

Copyright 2014 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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    Thursday, April 9 2015 5:44 PM EDT2015-04-09 21:44:20 GMT
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