Top VA official refuses to answer question about "preventable deaths"

by: Justin Gray Updated:

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WASHINGTON - Internal documents from the Department of Veterans Affairs show that at least 19 deaths, including ones in Georgia, were "preventable deaths."
 

The documents obtained by Channel 2’s Justin Gray showed not only the 19 deaths, but at least 60 more patients are seriously ill because they didn't get tests like colonoscopies when they should have.
 
But the VA has refused to say where it happened or if they've disciplined the people responsible
 
Gray went to a congressional hearing to track down the top VA official who oversees operations at veterans’ hospitals.
 
The VA has refused to answer questions from even members of Congress about where the 19 veterans were treated who suffered "preventable deaths"
 
“Why won’t the VA tell the public what locations that the 19 patients died because they didn't get proper screening?” Gray asked VA undersecretary Philip Matkovsky.
 
“I’m sorry sir, I can't comment on that,” Matkovsky said.
 
“Don't veterans have a right to know sir?” Gray asked.
 
Gray obtained internal VA documents that show three of the deaths occurred at the Augusta VA center.
 
But the VA refuses to say where other deaths and the 60 serious injuries took place.
 
“What are the hospitals so the veterans can be informed where they should go for the best medical care?” Gray asked Matkovsky.
 
“This is inexcusable,” said Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida.
 
The VA told Nelson they'll issue a report in two  months.
 
The House Veterans Affairs committee announced they'll call the VA in for questioning next week.
 
“As the operational director, do you feel that veterans should feel confident they're getting the treatment they need?” Gray asked Matkovsky.
 
“I do feel confident they're getting the treatment they need,” Matkovsky answered.
 
“Do you feel like if you go in and need a screening now I'll get it?” Gray asked.
 
“I do,” Matkovsky said.
 
“Was that always the case?” Gray asked Matkovsky.  
 
“I think that is the case and we will be in testimony next week answering questions directly for the record sir,” Matkovsky said.
 
In a statement Wednesday, a VA representative said after the deaths they imitated a nationwide review and changed procedures.