'VA's got to do better': Congress examines 11 suspicious patient deaths

Congress members met Oct. 16 to discuss safety concerns at Veterans Health Administration hospitals across the U.S., including the 11 suspicious deaths at Clarksburg, W.Va.-based Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center, according to WVMetroNews

Members of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations offered a critical review of the deaths, which occurred after patients received unauthorized insulin injections at the Clarksburg VA hospital. Three of the deaths have been ruled homicides.

"The VA's got to do better," said Rep. Chris Pappas, D-N.H., chairman of the subcommittee, according to WVMetroNews. "The string of incidents over the last eight weeks should serve as a wake-up call. We need to see that VA is as outraged as we are."

Steven Lieberman, MD, the VA's acting principal deputy under secretary for health, agreed and told the subcommittee that the VA wants to ensure "veterans receive safe, high quality healthcare." 

Dr. Lieberman said the VA holds those who provide poor care or commit crimes accountable and apologized to veterans and their families for any pain VA employees may have caused. 

VA applicants undergo background checks and fingerprinting, Dr. Lieberman said, and hospitals follow up with primary references. He added that it is not possible to predict all human failings. 

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