An investigation by the Veterans Affairs Department found no proof that veteran deaths were caused by delays at a Phoenix VA hospital.
The report from the VA’s Office of Inspector General contradicts allegations that the healthcare system falsified records to cover up fatal waiting periods, the Associated Press reported.
"It is important to note that while OIG's case reviews in the report document substantial delays in care, and quality-of-care concerns, OIG was unable to conclusively assert that the absence of timely quality care caused the death of these veterans,” VA Secretary Robert A. McDonald said in a memorandum about the report.
The current release is a draft report. The inspector general has not yet released the final report on waiting times.
Last spring, Dr. Samuel Foote, who worked at the Pheonix VA for more than 20 years, told Congress that VA officials were manipulating wait time data and that up to 40 patients had died waiting for care.
The allegations led to the resignation of former VA Secretary Eric Shinseki. In July, Congress approved an additional $16 billion to help the VA, Talking Points Memo reported.
Deputy VA Secretary Sloan Gibson says veterans still wait too long for care.
"They looked to see if there was any causal relationship associated with the delay in care and the death of these veterans and they were unable to find one. But from my perspective, that don't make it OK," Gibson said of the report. "Veterans were waiting too long for care and there were things being done, there were scheduling improprieties happening at Phoenix and frankly at other locations as well. Those are unacceptable."
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons / USMC Lance Cpl. Christofer P. Baines, WENN.com/C.M. Wiggins