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Nov 7, 2019

Tester, Moran Lead Bipartisan Call to Action for Better Patient Safety and Oversight at VA Facilities

Senators demand answers following cases of inadequate care or mistreatment of veterans at VA medical facilities across the country

U.S. Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) are leading eight colleagues in a bipartisan call to action following alarming incidents of veterans receiving inadequate care or mistreatment at the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) medical facilities.

In a letter to VA Secretary Wilkie today, the Senators voiced their concerns over serious, high-profile cases of veteran abuse and employee misconduct within VA facilities across the country.

“We are concerned about systemic issues that may be present within VA, affecting veterans’ ability to receive high-quality, timely health care,” stressed the Senators. “We write with specific examples from Department facilities, in addition to questions for VA on how to ensure these incidents are not repeated at any other VA facility and protocols are put in place to safeguard patient care system-wide. The Department must get a handle on its shortcomings so that veterans feel safe using its facilities and providers choose it as a place to practice medicine.”

Multiple incidents in recent months have exposed serious lapses in quality of care for veterans nationwide. Earlier this year, a twice-suspended VA physician in Arkansas was charged with involuntary manslaughter in three patient deaths that were due to incorrect or misleading diagnoses. In West Virginia, allegations of patient homicides surfaced, launching an in investigation into the murders that took place at the Clarksburg VA Medical Center after the deaths of multiple veterans from hypoglycemia. In Georgia, a veteran receiving end-of-life care at the VA Eagles’ Nest Community Living Center suffered more than 100 ant bites on his body after he was left unattended and his room became infested by ants.

In response to these disturbing reports, the Senators demanded immediate attention to address systemic issues and prevent incidents of mistreatment and abuse in the future. They called on the Department to implement protocols in order to safeguard patient care writing: “Veterans must have confidence that when they turn to the Department for health care services that the individuals charged with caring for them are monitored and held accountable for their actions. VA needs to take action system-wide to ensure that a protocol is in place for reviewing providers’ fitness to care for patients, flagging concerns, and restricting providers from modifying their records to conceal mistakes.”

The Senators’ letter highlighted main areas of concerns at the Department, including Quality of Care Controls, Credentialing and Privileging, Whistleblowing, Drug Monitoring and Reporting, Facility Conditions, and VA Leadership Vacancies.

In addition to Senators Tester and Moran, the letter was signed by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Bernard Sanders (I-VT), Robert Casey (D-Pa.), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), and Pat Roberts (R-Kan.).

Read the full letter to Secretary Wilkie HERE.

Office Contact Information

Senator Tester's Montana staff serves the state from offices in Billings, Bozeman, Butte, Great Falls, Helena, Kalispell, and Missoula. Please bring your concerns with federal agencies, academy nominations, and other situations to one of these Montana offices.

Billings

Judge Jameson Federal Building
2900 4th Ave N, Suite 201
Billings, MT 59101
Phone: (406) 252-0550
Fax: (406) 252-7768

Bozeman

Avant Courier Building
1 E Main Street, Suite 202
Bozeman, MT 59715
Phone: (406) 586-4450
Fax: (406) 586-7647

Butte

Silver Bow Center
125 W Granite, Suite 200
Butte, MT 59701
Phone: (406) 723-3277
Fax: (406) 782-4717

Great Falls

119 1st Avenue N, Suite 102
Great Falls, MT 59401
Phone: (406) 452-9585
Fax: (406) 452-9586

Helena

Capital One Center
208 N Montana Avenue, Suite 202
Helena, MT 59601
Phone: (406) 449-5401
Fax: (406) 449-5462

Kalispell

8 Third Street E
Kalispell, MT 59901
Phone: (406) 257-3360
Fax: (406) 257-3974

Missoula

130 W Front St.
Missoula, MT 59802
Phone: (406) 728-3003
Fax: (406) 728-2193

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