Documents show long list of problems at Atlanta VA Medical Center

by: Aaron Diamant Updated:

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DECATUR, Ga. —

Channel 2 Action News has obtained a copy of a confidential report exposing pages worth of new problems uncovered by auditors at the Atlanta VA Medical Center.

The new problems at the local veteran's hospital come on the heels of a Channel 2 Action News investigation on scathing federal reports, which blamed negligence and mismanagement for at least three patient deaths.

Now, Atlanta VA faces an uphill climb if it wants to keep its accreditation. On Thursday, a source sent Channel 2 investigative reporter Aaron Diamant a survey report written by inspectors with The Joint Commission, an independent accrediting agency that sets quality and safety standards for thousands of U.S. hospitals.

When agency inspectors showed up unannounced at the VA on Clairmont in March, they found problems -- pages and pages worth -- that put patients and staff at risk.

Here are the highlights: In an intensive care unit, inspectors found "several laryngoscope blades … and handles … stored together in an open plastic bag that appeared to have been used multiple times."

Inspectors also found a physician "had performed endotracheal intubation of a patient in respiratory distress," but that physician "had not requested or been granted privileges" for the procedure.

Inspectors also noted plenty of problems with procedures for monitoring, documenting and tracking patient care, plus issues securing anesthesia medication and narcotics.

The pharmacy "had not maintained cleanliness of the storage areas for medication." Inspectors specifically mentioned a "thick collection of grey dust."

"This is a very, very sad situation, and we owe it to our soldiers to get to the bottom of it, and we will," said U.S. Rep. David Scott of Jonesboro after Channel 2 Action News broke the story last month.

Those earlier reports prompted the chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs to call for hearings.

"People have to understand, there are consequences to failure to do your job correctly," said U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller of Florida.

VA leaders in Atlanta still won't talk to Channel 2 Action News about any of this. Diamant got another "no comment" Thursday from a VA spokesperson.

Meanwhile, the VA does get the chance to respond to The Joint Commission accreditors' findings.

A final decision on whether the DeKalb County facility stays accredited won't come for at least another couple months.