Casey Urges VA Investigation of Management and Patient Care in Health Care System

Allegations Similar to Problems Previously Found in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia VA

WASHINGTON, DC- Following the reports of serious problems occurring at Veterans Administrations (VA) facilities in Pennsylvania, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) sent a letter to General Eric Shinseki, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, requesting that the VA conduct a thorough and independent review of management practices and patient care within the VA health care system, particularly facilities in Pennsylvania.

“Recently, my staff has communicated with several constituents regarding allegations of mismanagement and improper patient care at VA facilities throughout Pennsylvania,” wrote Senator Casey.

Senator Casey went on to write, “Additionally, many of my constituents’ concerns are similar in nature to those published by the House Science and Technology Subcommittee on Investigation and Oversight in a September 2008 report on the VA Pittsburgh Health Service (VAPHS).”

He added, “The parallels between the concerns outlined in this report and those of my constituents, particularly regarding mismanagement, are distressing.”

Senator Casey wrote the letter following reports from constituents of mismanagement and improper patient care at VA facilities in Pennsylvania.  The reports, which stem from VA hospitals in Butler, Pittsburgh, Wilkes-Barre and Philadelphia, include allegations of improper management of medical professionals and employees by senior staff, employee intimidation by senior staff, lack of attention to patient concerns and lack of quality care.  Reports have surfaced from the Philadelphia VA that veterans receiving treatment for cancer were physically harmed as a result of flawed patient care and that serious concerns about this problem were mismanaged by VA staff.

In addition to asking for a thorough review of these cases, Senator Casey asked to be provided with information as to how the VA plans to institute safeguards for patients receiving treatment at VA facilities and the manner in which future complaints from veterans will be addressed.


Full text of the letter is below.

Dear General Shinseki:

            I am writing today regarding recent reports of serious problems occurring at Veterans Administrations (VA) facilities in Pennsylvania.  Recently, my staff has communicated with several constituents regarding allegations of mismanagement and improper patient care at VA facilities throughout Pennsylvania.  Several sites have been identified as sources of potential problems, particularly VA hospitals in Butler, Pittsburgh (University Drive) and Wilkes-Barre.  The allegations include, but are not limited to, improper management of medical professionals and employees by senior staff, employee intimidation by senior staff, lack of attention to patient concerns, and lack of quality care.  In the interest of maintaining my constituents’ privacy, incidents and names have not been included with this letter. 

            Reports regarding similar problems with the VA Medical Center in Philadelphia lead me to believe there are serious issues within the VA that must be addressed immediately.  I am deeply troubled that veterans receiving treatment for cancer were physically harmed as a result of flawed patient care and that serious concerns about this problem were mismanaged by VA staff. 

Additionally, many of my constituents’ concerns are similar in nature to those published by the House Science and Technology Subcommittee on Investigation and Oversight in a September 2008 report on the VA Pittsburgh Health Service (VAPHS).  This report, enclosed for your consideration, dealt with the destruction of an “Irreplaceable Collection of Legionella Samples,” which the Subcommittee found to be the result of mismanagement by senior staff at VAPHS.  The parallels between the concerns outlined in this report and those of my constituents, particularly regarding mismanagement, are distressing. 

            I respectfully request that the VA conduct a thorough and independent review of management practices and patient care within the VA health care system, particularly facilities in Pennsylvania.  I also ask that my office be provided with information as to how the VA plans to institute safeguards for patients receiving treatment at VA facilities, and the manner in which future complaints from veterans will be addressed.  I urge you and your staff to thoroughly review the above concerns and take any appropriate action necessary.  I would appreciate being informed of any progress the VA makes in addressing these critical issues. 

            Many of my constituents’ concerns with the Veterans Administration predate your tenure as Secretary, and I know that you are dedicated to improving the organization of which you have recently assumed control.  I need only look at your distinguished career as an Army officer and public servant to understand that you share my concerns about veterans care and services.  I look forward to working with you to improve the level of care our veterans receive.

            Again, thank you for your attention to this matter. 
                                                                       

Sincerely,

Robert P. Casey, Jr.
United States Senator

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