VA 'Brought Patients Back to Life' to Disguise Wait List Deaths

Cliff Owen/AP

Workers at the Phoenix Veterans Affairs facility covered up the deaths of patients who passed away while on waiting lists, according to a new report from CNN

Pauline DeWenter, a scheduling clerk at the Phoenix VA, told CNN that "'Deceased' notes on files were removed to make statistics look better," and that "at least seven times since last October, records that showed that veterans died while waiting for care ... were physically altered, or written over, by someone else." 

Records were changed, DeWenter said, to hide the fact that patients had died during lengthy waits to schedule care appointments at the hospital. In other words, she said the VA was in the business of "bringing them back to life," to avoid looking worse than it already did.

CNN reported in April that as many as 40 veterans had died waiting for care, and in late May the VA copped to long wait times, extending the limit to 30 days from 14. On Monday, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel released a report that confirmed extensive misconduct and dysfunction at VA facilities. 

In addition to being ordered to hide deaths, DeWenter said that she often "tried to work these scheduled appointments so at least I felt the sickest of the sick were being treated" and was "making life and death decisions."

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Federal IT Applications: Assessing Government's Core Drivers

    In order to better understand the current state of external and internal-facing agency workplace applications, Government Business Council (GBC) and Riverbed undertook an in-depth research study of federal employees. Overall, survey findings indicate that federal IT applications still face a gamut of challenges with regard to quality, reliability, and performance management.

    Download
  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

    Download
  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

    Download
  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

    Download
  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.