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VA: Dublin hospital scheduling needs 'further review' | Health

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VA: Dublin hospital scheduling needs 'further review'
Health
VA: Dublin hospital scheduling needs 'further review'

A federal audit says scheduling practices at Dublin's Veterans Administration audit is one of dozens nationwide that need "further review."

The audit says Veterans Administration investigators visited 216 hospitals and clinics nationwide. The VA is looking into complaints that veterans waited months or longer for doctor's appointments.

After questioning staff at those facilities, they said further review was needed at 81 locations -- 37 percent of the sites reviewed.

The audit does not describe what problems, if any, they found at Dublin's Carl A. Vinson Veterans Administration Medical Center.

But nationally, the audit says, investigators found problems like these:

• Staff keeping manual logs of appointment requests outside of electronic systems 
• Staff lacking familiarity with scheduling policies; 
• Employees indicating reluctance to participate in the survey due to fear they 
would be subject to disciplinary action.

The audit says no action has been taken against any of the 81 facilities.

Nationally, the Veterans Affairs Department says more than 57,000 patients are still waiting for initial medical appointments at VA hospitals and clinics 90 days or more after requesting them. An additional 64,000 who enrolled in the VA health care system over the past 10 years have never had appointments.

The department says the audit found that the agency's complicated appointment process created confusion among scheduling clerks and supervisors.

The audit says a 14-day goal for seeing first-time patients was unattainable given the growing demand among veterans for health care and poor planning. The VA has since abandoned that goal.

The audit released Monday says 13 percent of VA schedulers reported supervisors telling them to falsify appointment dates to make waiting times appear shorter.

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