Remember all of that bluster and rightetous indignation coming from Capitol Hill a while back? All of our politicians were boiling over with angst at the news that our VA Hospital System was in utter shambles. They pounded their chests and tore at their clothing… I half expected them to start rolling around in ash as they wept for our veterans. Then the cameras went away and the media forgot about the VA Scandal…
Well, it’s back and it’s as bad as ever…
A government watchdog has released a follow-up report on Monday examining whether a Veterans Affairs (VA) hospital in South Carolina has made any progress cleaning up its act.
The verdict? Only two of the 12 the items originally highlighted have seen closure.
Earlier this year, the VA inspector general investigated the William Jennings Bryan (WJB) Dorn VA medical center in Columbia, South Carolina, finding serious deficiencies in hospital management. The hospital has 95 operating beds and 75 community living beds.
Infection Control turned out to be a disaster. The facility ranked at 127 out of 128 hospitals on the patient safety indicator. Any data collected was left unused, and there was no evidence to suggest that preventive or corrective measures existed. Not much has changed since February.
Proper surgical backup instruments were often unavailable. Reports went missing. The Quality Management program declined to properly provide monitoring, and surgical residents kept patient logbooks in an insecure location, breaching privacy rules. Some clinics were woefully understaffed, and the Chief of Anaesthesia placed blame on the human resources department for generating inefficiencies.
This occurred back in February of this year. Officials cited a lack of stable leadership as the major factor for underperformance. The inspector general listed 12 recommendations for the hospital, one of which included stabilizing key leadership positions.
Now, nine months later, only 2 of the 12 recommendations have been satisfactorily completed. Chiefs for Surgery and Gastroenterology are still missing, although a few positons were filled. Unfortunately, surgical residents are still using hardcopy patient logbooks, in violation of privacy regulations. Doctors still leave patient health information out in the open.
“As a result, many of the problems outlined in the initial hotline report still existed, in whole or in part, at the time of our July 2014 follow-up visit. In addition, we found improper storage of patient information, medical and surgical supplies, medications, grafts, and patches during this visit,” the inspector general wrote in the report.
In short, not much has changed, except for the inspector general tacking on one more recommendation. The Facility Director needs to make sure surgical supplies and medication are actually stored properly.