VA Reopens Its Investigation Into Hines VA Hospital

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Hines VA Hospital

Benjamin KrauseVA just reopened its investigation into Hines VA Hospital unveiling its newly reorganized Office of Medical Inspector after shutting the watchdog down following failures leading up to Phoenix VA. I would not hold your breath on justice this time around, either.

Harmful cardiac treatments at Hines VA Hospital are at the center of VA reopening an investigation into allegations previously investigated by VA OIG.

Now, VA Office of Medical Inspector (OMI) has arisen like a phoenix from the ashes of the Phoenix VA waitlist debacle to evaluate questionable medical services at Hines VA Hospital. The VA OMI was recently disbanded and reorganized. Resurfacing of VA OMI at Hines VA Hospital could prove interesting.

American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) local 781 was asked to help provide witnesses to VA OMI for its investigation. My guess is VA OMI does not expect a lot of witnesses to show up. Between retaliation against whistleblowers and killing veterans, there may not be many to stand up in this instance even though insiders indicate numerous doctors want to come forward but are afraid VA bureaucrats will ruin their careers if they do.

Here is the press release:

The Department of Veterans Affairs is conducting a renewed internal investigation into allegations of improper cardiac care and failures to notify victims following improper treatments that resulted in injury veterans and even death. This is similar to a second investigation conducted by the agency in Tomah, Wisconsin after its internal watchdog failed to address harmful health care practices that were linked to deaths of numerous veterans.

On March 30, 2015, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Office of Medical Inspector (VA OMI) sent out written notice of the upcoming VA OMI investigation. Monday, VA OMI showed up at Hines VA Medical Center to conduct its impromptu investigation of allegations against VA Office of Inspector General (VA OIG) and deficiencies in cardiac care possibly effecting 100’s of veterans. Its investigation will last from April 6-10, 2015.

The allegations claim VA OIG failed fully investigate a matter involving the deaths and injuries of numerous veteran patients while receiving cardiovascular care at Hines VA Medical Center. They further claim that after the first VA OIG investigation, Hines VA Hospital did not notify the victims.

The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) local 781 believes the root causes of potential errors were not investigated by VA OIG and what resulted was a Tomah VA Medical Center style white wash. Local 781 is calling on VA OMI to investigate the failures at the facility level and the failures of VA OIG to properly investigate wrongdoing.

Local 781 was asked to facilitate the investigation process by encouraging all witnesses to come forward and provide statements to VA OMI about potentially harmful health care received at the facility that resulted in death or injury. This includes VA employees, veterans, family members of veterans, or anyone in the community who may have information about wrongdoing at the Hines VA hospital.

Specifically, in a report from the VA OIG, dated April 8, 2014, the OIG substantiated patients had questionable indications for coronary bypass surgery, that coronary interventions may have been inappropriate for nine patients who had undergone cardiac catheterization and that the degree of coronary stenosis had been over-estimated and patients did not have symptoms that warranted bypass surgery. The root cause of these errors has not been addressed, nor have patients been notified.

In February 2015, VA reopened the investigation at Hines VA Hospital in response to numerous medical staff whistleblowers. The VA OMI is now at Hines this week conducting interviews with witnesses.

Germaine Clarno, social worker and President of Local 781 has requested a meeting with the OMI staff so she can bring additional concerns to them from employees that are too afraid to come forward. The OMI has not responded to her request.

“We need a thorough investigation to appropriately address these serious issues of questionable cardiology care at Hines. We are still in a culture of fear for those that are truth tellers. I have very important information to give them and when they don’t agree to meet with me I am even more concerned.

If you were a witness, please contact Ms. Clarno at [email protected] or 630-258-5489 to schedule a time to come in to speak with her and OMI about your experience.

SOURCE: AFGE local 781 Hines VA Hospital Press Release

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12 Comments

  1. well I go to hines and I have had 2 stents put in… but they handled me b not bothering to handle me/… no ekg no nothing… except pills.. lots of pills

  2. Does anyone else think that just like in the various Branches of Military when we all went through Mobility Alerts, Command War Game Exercises, more often than not, the very top dog ranking entourages would ALSO be at these Inspections, as that’s what they were as well as performance Reviews, and further improvements on assessments thereafter…Do you other Veterans and Survivors, et al, think it would be a HUGE IMPROVEMENT if Secretary McDonald actually went and spent the entire how many days AT LOCATION with such events, to show he wants to weed out and re-establish integrity?
    Ben…how about that being new improvement that also the new Under Secretary would also go to such “Inspections”, rather than just as it currently is, putting out ‘brush fires’ with media blurps of self righteousness?
    This would facilitate cleaning-up both the OIG/ and all the other lovely anagrams we know they love that are supposed to be watch-dogs to prevent these on-going scandals from even ever being an issue by improved, “trickle-down” integrity and just let the VA Union employees jump ship like rats and replace with Vets wanting to improve or redirect their lives by working even part time at the VA or definitely more of a Veteran Employee and real representation rather than the whole ruse of the VAMC’s “Patient Advocate”, which by alerting the VA Police and Red Flagging Veterans as trouble makers does nothing but discouraging already anxiety riddled Veterans from going to the Patient Advocate because they are adversarial.

    Secretary McDonald simply needs to GO for DAYS at these problems, with OIG, problem spots to spots, locations, and finally get the VA to be UNIFIED from across whole VA system so Veterans are not faced with maybe being afraid to move to another State because that new VA may decide to totally IGNORE diagnosis and medication history, as I have read on this site many times and plethora of situations on hadit.com

    Thanks for what you are doing Ben! Sec. McDonald, if you read this, in all due respect, I implore you to become part of this hands-on like the CDC putting out infectious outbreaks…because it is infectiously systemic. Thanks!

  3. I think the Va cover ups go even further than Hines…Wichita VA left me in constant pain after ignoring Emergency room visits for Severe spinal stenosis from April 09 to November 09, so director of Wichita VA could get his or her bonus.. NO, I am the one to suffer because of the VA’s lack of urgency or lack of responding to individual emergency.. Fiscal year for VA starts in October…Oddly enough, I didn’t receive surgery until after bonus time…Sucks, they lie and cover up any errors they make…
    That is why it has taken 46 years to resolve my other claims as well, and the VA is still hassling me….

  4. It’s time to realize the VA is run by morons. I see a VA shrink every other month for the past 4 years. Over that time, she has told me some very interesting things For example, the Chief of Staff of Psychiatry was suddenly transferred out. A meeting was held where they were told by a representative of the Director that the department will be facing deep cuts and that there must be more efficiencies. The physician’s rep, spoke up that they have waiting lists and that the national budget was increased last year specifically for mental health.

    The physicians’ rep supposedly wrote to MacDonald and there was an exchange where now the director’s office is saying that it is a matter of budget requests which need to be granted. However, the employees in the department are still up in the air about what will happen.

    The interesting part of this to me is, this Director recently was transferred from another VA where she permitted the Chief of Staff of the Psychiatry Department not to be Board certified. Even after several attempts to pass and failing, the Chief of Staff was allowed to retain her position. They also played big time with the waiting times for MH care (no matter the seriousness of your situation it was 4 months between appointments and then you had to call yourself 90 days before). Walk ins seeking care were often given appointments a week out. There were no psychiatrists available for consultation – only PA’s and NPs. I know, I went there for 8 months and it was terrible care. It was also a place they would prescribe anything you asked for.

    I am really curious who is now going to be the department chief of staff.

    On another note, I asked my shrink about a new PCP who I heard of and would she want this doctor to treat her? My shrink’s response: “well she is new.” Okay, I got that message. I then asked her if she would have accepted her job working for the VA, if her health insurance stated she must use the VA system? Answer, “I don’t think so.”

    By the way my shrink has told me why she works for the VA. She has children and can work 4 days a week 8 to 5. So naturally I asked and when the kiddies are grown?……………………. She replied, ” I will be reviewing options.”

    Kinda telling – huh?

    • The same was with Department of Anesthesia. Guy who run department for 9 years was not Board Cert Anesthesiologist . They made him Director of Chronic Pain Service of Hines VA. Unfortunately all Department Chair positions are administrative positions , not clinical. If you will go in private sector, doctors should be Board Certified in two years by majority Medical Staff Bylaws. To take all not Board Physicians from Hines you will need to rewrite Bylaw.

  5. Another prime example of a severe failure by the House and Senate to properly oversee a federal agency. Why are they not investigating the failure of the IG to investigate these issues? Why are they not investigating the failure of the VA to properly follow federal whistleblower laws? I do find it interesting the employees union is fighting for this investigation. It makes me wonder if they are worried about veterans wanting private health care and losing their jobs.

  6. Far too often I have had my hopes destroyed soon after reports like these came out. I no longer trust the system and fear that it will not change until we get elected officials who care and not just give lip service to get elected.

    The thing that stands out for me is the sentence: “The Department of Veterans Affairs is conducting a renewed internal investigation into allegations of improper cardiac care and failures to notify victims following improper treatments that resulted in injury veterans and even death.” Another, “internal investigation” means that the VA looks at itself? I am sure that self will say that everything is fine.

    It needs an outside agency to objectively look at the complaints and then report the findings to Congress with recommendations on how to improve the VA.

    • And the veterans they harmed need to take action (or the survivors of any vet they killed)
      this sounds bigger then Phoenix and as bad as Tomah…..
      The VA ,itself, sounds like a weapon of mass destruction sometimes….
      and I hate to bring it up again but this is how they killed my husband…improper care to include misdiagnosis of a heart attack.

      The harmed veterans or their survivors have to get an IMO from a Real cardio doctor, and then SUE the shit out of them.
      What malpractice lawyer would not want to take a case with a probative medical opinion of malpractice.

      But they only have 2 years after the day they learned of the malpractice. (for FTCA)

      No time limit on Section 1151 negligence claims, however. I just won one about malpracticed HBP my husband had, and he died over 20 years ago.

      They determined that malpractice in the FTCA case but never acknowledged it then, they just acknowledged the other malpracticed stuff that also caused his death.
      .

      • The VA also does studies utilizing veterans as subjects without letting them know of adverse effects.

  7. These are just sideshows, smokes and mirrors, to misdirect the public’s attention, away from the billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money being wasted or “lost” on massive VA construction, pharmaceutical, and IT contracts, with the complicity of the VAOIG and coverup by the Congressional watchdogs. Believe me, Mike Coffman and Jeff Miller will never call for criminal investigation of the billions of dollars that vanished without a trace under the management of the recently retired Glenn Haggstrom. And AFGE is in the mix now too? I can’t stop LOL! No, make that LOXL!

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