As it works to get patients off waiting lists for appointments, the Charlie Norwood Veterans Affairs Medical Center confirmed Thursday five new incidents of patients being seriously injured or dying this year because of mistakes in care.
The incidents, first reported by the conservative news site The Washington Free Beacon, are believed to be separate from the three cancer-related deaths reported last November in the Augusta hospital’s gastrointestinal clinic.
What is unclear is the exact number of “institutional disclosures” – the term the VA uses to report an adverse event in patient care, such as a death or serious injury – that occurred in 2013 from more than 4,500 endoscopies being delayed.
In analyzing data on more than 575 “institutional disclosures” filed at VA hospitals nationwide, The Free Beacon found that Augusta had 14 such incidents in 2013 and five so far in the first two quarters of this year. The data were provided by the VA under the Freedom of Information Act.
Hospital spokesman Pete Scovill confirmed the five adverse events in 2014 but said hospital records only show 11 in 2013.
Scovill would not say in what specific medical service the incidents occurred, or comment on the circumstances surrounding each, such as date and contributing factors. He said that data would have to be requested under the Freedom of Information Act to “ensure VA privacy officers are able to review the response and protect patient privacy.”
An ongoing VA audit started last month to document wait times for veterans initially showed that 26 Augusta veterans waited at least 90 days for an appointment and that 133 new enrollees have waited 10 years for requested appointments.
The latest figures released Thursday show 63 Augusta veterans now wait at least 90 days and only one new enrollee who has not had a requested appointment in the last decade.