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VA director responds to allegations

 

The Associated Press

 

JACKSON -- A government report alleges inadequate patient care, chronic staff shortages, missed diagnoses and nurse practitioners without licenses at the G. V. (Sonny) Montgomery VA Medical Center in Jackson. 

 

The allegations were in a report this week from the Office of Special Counsel and have been sent to President Barack Obama. 

 

The OSC said in a news release that the findings came from two "whistleblowers," a current primary care doctor and a retired ophthalmologist with knowledge of radiology issues. 

 

VA Center director Joe Battle said in a statement that the medical center has already taken corrective action in response to OSC investigation and will continue to take action to address each recommendation OSC has made. 

 

"We will review the Office of Special Counsel's latest letter and investigate any additional issues and allegations it raises. VA welcomes recommendations of the Office of Special Counsel -- and all external reviews -- as an opportunity to evaluate our programs and identify areas for improvement," Battle said. 

 

The whistleblowers are the fourth and fifth of seven Jackson VA employees in four years to contact the OSC, authorities said in the news release. 

 

Past accusations from whistleblowers include the use of dirty, rust-stained instruments and unsterilized medical equipment, incorrect sterilization procedures in the medical center and inaccurate statements to the public and Congress about problems at the facility, according to the OSC. 

 

The OSC said the VA had confirmed or substantiated three of the new allegations in regards to nurse practitioners lacking required licensure to prescribe narcotics, understaffing and supervision of nurse practitioners by a physician. 

 

But in terms of the allegations against the radiologist, "while the VA conceded that the peer review process was substandard, it did not substantiate the allegations, citing reviews of a very small fraction of the thousands of images in question," according to the news release. 

 

The OSC has asked for an update from the VA within 60 days.

 

 

 

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