OIG: Dirty conditions, gaps in safety revealed at Phoenix VA hospital

A report from the U.S. Office of Inspector General revealed several issues in safety processes, medical evaluations and cleanliness within the Phoenix VA Health Care System, The Arizona Republic reports.

Seven things to know:

1. The inspector general's report came the day before President Donald Trump signed the VA Mission Act June 6 to expand veterans' access to private healthcare. It is based on an inspector visit in February that found flaws in safety processes, inspections, geriatric medical evaluations and mental health diagnostics.

2. The OIG "is concerned with the number of potential in-hospital complications and adverse events following surgeries," the report stated. Additionally, inspectors found dirty floors and food without expiration dates.

3. The Phoenix VA Health Care System consists of the main hospital, Carl T. Hayden VA Medical Center, and related clinics, which serve over 92,000 veterans.

4. In 2014, whistle-blowers and The Arizona Republic reported VA patients were dying while waiting for care amid mismanagement and falsified appointment data. These issues were found to be widespread across VA facilities. These investigations led to the replacement of the VA secretary and extensive reforms.

5. The OIG report said the Phoenix VA Health Care System changed seven directors in four years to address these issues. The administration has been stable since April 2017, and leaders are working to "turn things around," the report stated.

6. However, the report noted the Carl T. Hayden VA Medical Center "continues to struggle to gain patients' and public trust, as evidenced by low patient satisfaction survey results."

7. The inspector general issued 13 recommendations for the Phoenix VA system. Supervisors are expected to act on these recommendations. Phoenix VA spokesperson Cindy Dorfner said officials are developing plans to address the issues, two of which have been resolved.

"We welcome the opportunities that come with inspections, surveys and reviews of our hospital since they show us areas where we need to continue to improve the healthcare delivery for our veterans," Ms. Dorfner told The Arizona Republic. "We're dedicated to improving the patient experience so that veterans want to choose VA." 

More articles on clinical leadership and infection control: 
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Massachusetts hospital tackles alert fatigue after staff overlooked patient's deadly allergy warning
APIC honors West Virginia hospital infection prevention director

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