5 absolutely crazy developments from VA’s latest Inspector General report

Matt Saintsing
November 05, 2018 - 3:07 pm

Flynt | Dreamstime

Each month, the VA’s Office of Inspector General provides insights into some unsavory aspects that unfortunately make its way into providing care for veterans. 

And September's, does not disappoint. 

From a gang member caught using his legs to a doctor whose blood pressure readings were like a broken record, it’s at least good to see VA take responsibility and some action to some ludicrous (and not to mention illegal) activities. 

Pill popping nurse

A former VA employee in Gainesville, Fla. has been sentenced to 12 months’ probation after an investigation concluded the nurse manager took oxycodone and hydromorphone—both opioids—“for personal use” as frequently as four times per shift while on duty.   
The employee admitted to stealing the medication and has resigned. 

Ax-wielding veteran

A veteran was arrested for making threats to an employee of the Wilmington, De. VA Medical Center. The unidentified veteran gained access to the facility’s “executive area” with an ax and two knives in tow.   The individual “became violent” following a medical assessment, threatening VA personnel. 

A tale of two recordings

A veteran previously pled guilty to wire fraud and sentenced to three years in prison was ordered to pay back more than $350,000 to VA. 

The defendant, who is in a street gang, received a monthly pension “for the loss of use of both of his legs.” He told a VA investigator he had not been able to walk for more than a decade. 

Video surveillance later surfaced showing him walking “with no apparent difficulty.”

Tech glitch results in massive overpayments

The VA lost a whopping $101.4 million in payments for the Veterans Choice Program, which allows vets to receive care outside of the VA system and have the Department pick up the check. 

The overpayments went to two third-party administrators, Health Net Federal Services and TriWest Healthcare Alliance Corporation, for administrative services including paying claims for health care providers. 

The Veterans Health Administration’s Office of Community Care (OCC) implemented new rules in 2016, but “the process did not have effective internal controls in place to detect improper claims,” leaving the OCC out of millions. 

Doctor wanted less work

The VA responded to a tip of a primary care provider at the Bera, Ky. Community-Based Outpatient Clinic falsifying patients’ documents. The doctor logged blood pressure readings of 128/78 for nearly each of the 1,370 patient encounters. 

Why,  you ask? The “falsification of blood pressure readings was most likely due to the provider’s attempt to reduce workload (as addition follow-up is required for higher readings).” 

The “inadequate treatment,” or lying on official medical documents, put certain patients at risk for “adverse clinical outcomes, including death.” 

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