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The Journal Gazette

Tuesday, May 06, 2014 11:43 am

Investigator: VA employees told to falsify records

DENVER (AP) Employees at a veterans medical clinic in Colorado were instructed to falsify records to make it appear that patients were getting appointments close to the day requested, government investigators said.

Workers at the Fort Collins clinic were told to make their records show that veterans got appointments within 14 days of the day requested, whether or not it was true, according to a December report by investigators from the Veterans Affairs Department's medical branch.

The investigation was first reported Monday by USA Today.

Investigators said they found no evidence that anyone's health suffered because of the practice. They said the practice violated VA policy but did not break any laws.

The VA is already under criticism over allegations that up to 40 patients may have died because of delays in care at a veterans hospital in Phoenix. On Monday, the American Legion called for the resignations of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki and two top aides.

The VA said Shinseki would not resign.

Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., chairman of the House subcommittee on Veterans Oversight and Investigations, also called on Shinseki to resign, citing the Phoenix allegations and cost overruns at a VA hospital under construction in Denver.

Coffman said the committee would hold hearings on the Phoenix hospital matter.

The VA didn't immediately respond Tuesday to questions from The Associated Press about the Fort Collins investigation. The agency told USA Today that employees had been retrained and weekly audits were implemented.

Part of the investigative report provided to the AP was redacted, and it was not clear who instructed employees to falsify the records. The report said only that the instruction came from business office staff.

The employees who were told to falsify the records were not identified in the unredacted parts of the report.

Employees said their names appeared on a "bad boy" list if the records showed the appointments they scheduled were more than 14 days from the date the veteran requested.

The employees said they were told to make the records show that the date veterans requested for an appointment was the same date they requested.


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