ATLANTA - Channel 2 Action News has uncovered new problems at Veterans Affairs including dentists repeatedly pulling the wrong teeth. We've learned this problem went on for months.
When we showed internal reports to local medical malpractice attorney Keith Lindsay, he said, "It's appalling to me."
The documents, sent to Channel 2's investigative reporter Aaron Diamant by a confidential VA source, detail how dentists at metro Atlanta VA clinics repeatedly pulled the wrong teeth from patients’ mouths.
“It subjects the poor veteran to additional risk, risks of infection, risks of additional pain, risk of another complication," Lindsay said.
The first wrong extraction happened early last August. A clinic supervisor “apologized for the incident and offered a proposed recovery treatment plan.”
VA leaders held meetings with staff to review procedures but after two more similar incidents that same month.
The chief of staff ordered “an Immediate Stand Down on extractions pending an internal review.”
Still, in October, a “senior (CHIEF) resident" extracted another wrong tooth.
“It seems as though the problem since August of last year has gotten worse and worse," Lindsay said.
Way worse, this report shows a veteran showed up at the clinic to have 13 teeth pulled but, “The Dental Resident performing the extractions misread the Oral Surgery Referral Note and extracted the 13, plus 8 more…” the vet’s primary dentist found “…all the patient’s lower teeth had been extracted.”
“That’s the VA. It just keeps happening," said veteran Loreno Beamon.
Despite all the apologies to patients and new procedures listed in the reports, veterans we stopped outside the clinic Wednesday have a message for the VA.
“Get it fixed, you know, we served this country, Vietnam, World War Two, Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan, and you know, we can’t get 100% of the service that we gave 100% of ourself to this country,” Beamon said.
A spokesperson for the Atlanta VA Healthcare System sent us this statement in response to our findings:
"Atlanta VA Health Care System always strives to provide Veterans with the very best health care available. When we don’t meet that standard, we hold ourselves accountable. That’s why we taken necessary action to hold staff involved in these incidents accountable and worked with the VA National Office of Dentistry and Regional headquarters to assign national experts to advise and assist in improvement processes.
"Additionally, we are conducting a top-to-bottom review of our oral surgery department’s operations. While this review is ongoing, VA will be referring Veterans in need of oral surgery to community providers to ensure no negative impact to patient care.
"Our response to these incidents is an opportunity to reevaluate our overall operations to provide even better care to our Veterans moving forward."
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