VA: West Virginia facility manipulated wait times, patient data

A Department of Veterans Affairs investigation revealed the Louis A. Johnson Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Clarksburg, W. Va., intentionally manipulated patient data to make it seem like wait times and patient volume were lower than they actually were, according to the Office of Special Counsel.

The VA began its investigation following allegations from a confidential whistle-blower.

Ultimately, the VA found an unnamed primary care manager at the West Virginia facility is responsible for the placement of emergency patients in two unofficial clinics used to improperly decrease reported emergency department wait times and  ED patient volume, states a Sept. 29 letter from the OSC to President Donald Trump. This reportedly occurred over the last seven years.

"The decision to create these unofficial clinics violated several VA directives and prevented an accurate analysis of ED staff workload," the letter reads. "It also gave the false impression that the primary care clinic had a greater workload and demand for services."

The VA also failed to properly code patient visits, which resulted in charging more than 600 veterans an incorrect copayment and "a total lost revenue of $21,070 for the clinic," according to the OSC.

According to the OSC, the VA responded by immediately discontinuing the practice, coming up with a process for clinic approvals and educating leadership and staff on requirements in VA directives.

The VA "is currently determining how to recoup lost payments. In addition, the VA counseled the manager responsible for the creation of these improper clinics," the agency added.

 

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