Poor Care at Phoenix VA Led to Deaths of Veterans with Cancer

Multiple veterans died of cancer after receiving insufficient care at the Phoenix VA hospital, the same VA facility at the heart of the fake waitlist scandal.

A report from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs Office of Inspector General released Thursday outlined the delays experienced by nearly 50 percent of patients referred to the urology service in Phoenix because of “extreme staffing shortages.”

Investigators reviewed 3,321 electronic health records between August 2014 and April 2015 and found that 1,484 patients—45 percent—experienced delayed care. Delays involved either not receiving a timely evaluation or not receiving a timely follow-up appointment at the Phoenix urology facility or through so-called “Non-VA Care Coordination.”

The report singled out 10 individuals in particular who experienced “significant delays” in care that therefore placed them “at unnecessary risk for adverse outcomes.” Half of these patients died.

The majority of these patients received care that delayed the diagnosis of or treatment for prostate cancer. In many cases, appointments were “cancelled by the clinic” for unclear reasons, therefore delaying care. Three of the patients died of prostate cancer, one of bladder cancer, and another of a condition producing blood in his urine.

The inspector general also found the quality of non-urological care to be unacceptable in two of these cases that put the pair of patients at “unnecessary risk for harm.”