Inappropriate scheduling allegations probed at Durham VA

May. 13, 2014 @ 06:06 PM

Two Durham VA Medical Center employees have been placed on administrative leave for alleged “inappropriate scheduling practices,” according to a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs statement.

The allegations have been made as Veterans Administration hospitals around the country have come under scrutiny for allegations of delays in patient care. According to The Associated Press, VA facilities in South Carolina, Florida, Georgia and in Washington state have been linked to delays in patient care or poor oversight in the past year.

Three executives at the veterans hospital in Phoenix were placed on administrative leave as a result of an investigation into allegations of corruption and unnecessary deaths. Allegations were made that up to 40 patients may have died because of delays in care and because of a secret patient waiting list made to hide delays in treatment.

U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki has called for a national audit of patient access and scheduling. It was in preparation for the audit that the administration’s central office learned Monday that a Durham VA Medical Center employee indicated that some facility employees may have “engaged in inappropriate scheduling practices at some point between 2009 and 2012.  “

“If true, these scheduling practices did not comply with VHA’s policy on Outpatient Scheduling Processes and Procedures,” the VA news release said.

Kerry L. Meeker, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, said in an email that Veterans Health Administration scheduling policy states that all patients should be able to get an appointment with a doctor, dentist or other medical professional within 14 days of their requested or preferred date, and that any wait longer than two weeks should be documented.

A Veterans Health Administration audit team will be on-site this week to assess scheduling practices and determine if inappropriate behavior occurred.

Shannon Mann, a spokeswoman for the Durham VA Medical Center, said the audit team was on-site on Tuesday, but it could be weeks before any information is released from it.

Mann said the medical center is not naming the two Durham employees.

They are on administrative leave pending the review of the allegations. Mann did say that they’re not administrators.

A thorough investigation will be conducted based on the findings of the initial review and audit.

“(The) VA takes any allegations about patient care or employee misconduct very seriously,” the statement said. “If the allegations are true, the inappropriate behavior is unacceptable and employees will be held accountable.”