250K canceled diagnostic tests spark audit at 9 VA hospitals

Since 2016, more than 250,000 radiology orders have been canceled at Veteran Affairs hospitals nationwide, raising questions whether VA facilities are following proper procedures for cancelling duplicate or outdated diagnostic orders, according to USA Today

Here are six things to know:

1. VA Inspector General Michael Missal is currently auditing mass radiology cancellations at nine VA hospitals in Tampa and Bay Pines, Fla., Salisbury, N.C., Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Iowa City, Iowa.

2. The goal of the audit is "to determine whether VA processed radiology requests in a timely manner and appropriately managed canceled requests," Mr. Missal told USA Today.

3. Ultrasound technicians at the VA hospital in Tampa told USA Today that some veterans may have gone months, if not years, before they or their physicians realized the tests were not completed.

4. Lisa Bickford, an administrative staffer at the Iowa City VA hospital testified that the hospital's chief radiologist told her and other employees to "clean" up a backlog of incomplete diagnostic orders, with some orders dating back years.. The staff responded by "annihilating" thousands of orders in a matter of weeks, Ms. Bickford said, according to legal ecords cited by USA Today.

5. Bryan Clark, a spokesperson for the Iowa City hospital, acknowledged the facility failed to follow national VA guidelines for a small number of diagnostic order cancellations. Most cancellations were for orders from 2015, he said. For instances of improperly deleted orders, "appropriate personnel actions were taken to correct the behavior, and staff reviewed the cancellations to ensure every order that required action was appropriately reviewed by a radiology provider," Mr. Clark told USA Today.

6. The VA said it welcomes the Inspector General's oversight and is working to improve cancellation guidelines.

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