While you were out fighting wars for the Flag defending our rights, many of you were unaware VA stood ready to give you a flag of its own – this time to take your rights away.
Yesterday, I came across the most current Patient Record Flags Manual (PRF) used by VA staff to deny veterans their right of access to health care without due process.
After reviewing its pages, the Patient Records Flags Manual should be renamed – something like the “Unconstitutional Veteran Targeting Guide,” since that is what it does in function.
It is used to “warn” VA employees about disgruntled veterans and thought some of you would like to see it. Here is what VA says it does:
Patient Record Flags (PRFs) are used to alert Veterans Health Administration (VHA) medical staff and employees of patients whose behavior and characteristics may pose a threat either to their safety, the safety of other patients, or compromise the delivery of quality health care.
The last part of this explanation is what really concerns me. What does “compromise the delivery of quality health care” mean? That is a very ambiguous definition if I have ever seen one.
Now, last week I wrote about VA Disruptive Behavior Committees. These are the secret bureaucratic committees that decide whether or not to flag veterans without providing due process first. The veteran then has his or her right of access to care restricted without prior notice.
The good news this week is that I found their manual last night. This is important for two reasons. First, you can now read up on how VA employees flag you. Second, and even better, you get to know what the keywords are when you request your file under the Privacy Act. Since VA is required by law to provide you with a copy of any records they have about you, knowing the terms is a good start.
If you skip to page 27, the PDF explains what an authorized user must include when assigning a flag to a veteran:
Patient Record Flags (PRF) are advisories that authorized users place on a patient’s chart to improve employee safety and the efficient delivery of health care. Each advisory or flag includes a narrative that describes the reason for the flag and may include some suggested actions for users to take when they encounter the patient. Other information displayed to the user includes the Flag Type, Flag Category, Assignment Status, Initial Assignment Date, Approved by, Next Review Date, Owner Site, and Originating Site. When assigning a flag, authorized users must write a progress note that clinically justifies each flag assignment action.
That is the information and record you want to get. If there is an error, you may be able to remove the flag. If the problem is defamatory in nature, you may be able to sue the VA for damages.
For me, the next step is to figure out the right fact set to reverse this trend of harming veterans. While I am sure some veterans need some form of a flag, I am also aware of numerous veterans who were unfairly targeted for a variety of unreasonable reasons. I guess they must have interfered with that “quality health care.” [sic]
This discussion of Patient Record Flags has me fired up because of the clear unconstitutional nature of the program. It reminds me of the old Communist techniques used to keep Soviet citizens in check, since I am aware of more than a few veterans who are flagged merely because of their threat to sue VA.
What do you think the manual should be called and what should we do about it?
Download the PRF Manual here: https://www.disabledveterans.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/VA-Patient-Record-Flags.pdf