Ch. 2 investigation uncovers hundreds of deaths, injuries over delays in care at VA hospitals

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ATLANTA - Channel 2 Action News has uncovered hundreds of patient deaths blamed on bad government care.
 

Within the last 24 hours, two Georgia congressmen ramped up the pressure on President Barrack Obama to fire the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
 
Channel 2 Action News has spent more than a year exposing patient deaths and other problems at the Atlanta VA and around the country.
 
Channel 2 investigative reporter Aaron Diamant has now uncovered disturbing new numbers.
 
While the VA's inspector general continues its nationwide probe into allegations that workers cooked the books to cover up extended appointment wait times for patients and the impact, Diamant has been digging into the VA's own data and found delays in care linked to hundreds of deaths in Atlanta and beyond that date back more than a decade.
 
"Unfortunately I think the president really made a mistake in not calling for Secretary Shinseki's resignation," said Rep. John Barrow.
 
Barrow is breaking Democratic ranks to criticize Obama's response to the growing department of Veteran’s Affairs scandal.
 
"That would send the signal that administration is determined to the most possible to get to the bottom of what happened," Barrow said.
 
By dissecting the VA's own data that Diamant got through a Freedom of Information Act request, we uncovered 304 claims, since 2001, from VA facilities coast to coast that blamed one or more delay in care to a patient's death.
 
The claims include a delay in treatment 167 times, delay in diagnosis another 167 times, plus dozens of delays in performance, admission to the hospital, or a referral.
 
Diamant found 18 Georgia cases, including 11 at the Atlanta VA Medical Center.
 
"This is an indictment of the standard of care that being provided in these places," Barrow said.
 
Digging deeper we found the VA settled each of those 304 cases either on its own or in court, costing taxpayers more than $64 million.
 
"This is a bureaucratic failure of massive scale," Barrow said.
 
And our analysis shows over the same time, the VA has paid out more than $900 million in settlements and judgments in thousands of cases claiming bad care, nearly 1,200 involved a patient's death.
 
"We got to break this cycle of neglect. It starts at the top, but it shouldn't end there. We've got to go all the way up and down the chain of command to figure out how this can happen in the first place," Barrow said.
 
Channel 2 Action News has already reported that of the hundreds of VA facilities across the country, the Atlanta VA hospital ranks fifth for the number of cases the agency settled since 2001, that blamed bad care for a patient's death.



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