Kansas City VA Medical Center says clerical mistake, not ‘secret’ patient wait list, caused delays

06/06/2014 7:51 PM

06/06/2014 8:39 PM

A serious clerical mistake rather than a “secret” patient wait list caused care delays at the Kansas City VA Medical Center, the hospital said Friday.

In a news release late in the afternoon, the VA Medical Center said reports of a “secret wait list” at the hospital were erroneous. Instead, “the incident reported involves a situation in which veteran appointments were delayed in being scheduled for a return visit due to a serious clerical mistake,” the release said.

A spokewoman for the medical center could not be reached immediately on Friday to explain what sort of serious mistake was made.

The terms “secret” and “unauthorized” have both been used to describe unofficial patient lists recently uncovered at VA hospitals. A report last week by the VA’s regional office in Kansas City said that unauthorized lists sometimes are called “secret wait lists.”

The VA Medical Center’s press release Friday did not contradict the use of the term “unauthorized” list by Sen. Roy Blunt.

On Thursday, the Missouri Republican issued a press release saying that “officials at the (medical center) admitted to Blunt’s staff that the facility did, in fact, have an ‘unauthorized’ list that compromised care for area veterans.”

The list comprised 37 patients from the hospital’s cardiology clinic, Blunt’s office said. Patients were subsequently scheduled for appointments.

The VA is embroiled in a widening scandal that began with the disclosure earlier this year that veterans at the Phoenix Health Care System were being placed on unofficial lists rather than being entered into the official electronic waiting list.

The scandal forced the resignation of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki. Last week, the director of the Robert J. Dole Medical Center in Wichita acknowledged that there had been an unauthorized waiting list at his hospital.

Keeping patients off official wait lists makes waiting times appear shorter, which can affect administrators’ bonuses and raises. But patients are placed at risk of being forgotten or lost in the scheduling process.

To reach Alan Bavley, call 816-234-4858 or send email to abavley@kcstar.com.

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