The Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System lost at least 900 unread patient X-rays over the last five years, according to VA documents.
The X-rays were only recently rediscovered. Some of them included images of possible abnormalities and malignancies that require medical treatment, according to the Montgomery Advertiser.
Seven X-rays showed major abnormalities and 119 are abnormal with medical attention needed, according to documents obtained by the Advertiser.
CAVHCS has not yet studied the possible impact losing these X-rays may have had on patient health.
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According to a May brief CAVHCS Director James Talton warned that unread imaging exams were intermittently falling off the "unread list" in the VA’s system.
Regional staff and administrators determined this was happening because there wasn’t enough memory on radiologists’ workstations. A recommendation to increase memory was made, but X-rays continued to fall off the list, anonymous VA officials told the Advertiser.
The next steps for CAVHCS is to conduct a clinical review of the X-rays.
According to a federal audit Central Alabama VA centers have an average wait time of 75 days for new patients. This is the seventh worst waiting period in the nation, WSFA-TV reported. The average at the Montgomery VA is only 31 days for new patients.
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The audit also found the Central Alabama VA falsified records to hide long waiting periods.
"Reports are emerging that employees in the Central Alabama VA falsified records to hide long wait times for veterans seeking care,” Rep. Martha Roby said in a June statement.
“Anybody found to have mistreated veterans, altered wait list documents, or been complicit with such behavior should be immediately terminated and possibly prosecuted,” she added.
Image credit: Chris Pruitt