U.S. Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma has released a new report, "Friendly Fire: Death, Delay, and Dismay at the VA," stating that more than 1,000 veterans have died during the last decade and the Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals are to blame. Coburn, who is also an M.D., cites malpractice and lack of care as the culprits.
Coburn says in statement, "Over the past decade, more than 1,000 veterans may have died as a result of VA malfeasance," reports CNN. "Poor management is costing the department billions of dollars more and compromising veterans' access to medical care."
The Senator himself has survived cancer three times.
"Coburn's office says the VA has allocated about $20 billion since the beginning of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to numerous non-health-related projects, such as office makeovers, unused software licenses, undocumented purchases on government debit cards and the funding of call centers that received an average of 2.4 calls per day, among others," CNN explains. "Additional funds have been funneled into legal settlements. Since 2001, the VA has paid about $845 million in malpractice costs, of which $36.4 million was used to settle claims involving delayed health care."
"The report [also] identifies crimes committed by VA staff, including drug dealing, theft and sexual abuse of patients dating back many years," further reports CNN. "A CNN investigation recently uncovered an additional scheme at the Phoenix VA hospital, where records of dead veterans were changed to hide how many died while waiting for care."
The VA has only confirmed that 23 patients have died due to delayed care recently. However, 69 medical centers are currently being investigated on allegations that administrators altered appointment data to make patient's charts reflect a shorter wait time. VA officials will be removed from their current positions if found guilty of tampering with death victims' files.