Corker, Alexander Request Update On Response To Memphis VA Patient Deaths

Friday, May 16, 2014

Senator Bob Corker and Senator Lamar Alexander on Thursday sent a letter to U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Under Secretary for Health Robert A. Petzel requesting an update on the implementation of recommendations made in an October 2013 VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) report entitled “Healthcare Inspection Emergency Department Patient Deaths Memphis VA Medical Center (MVAMC) Memphis, Tn.”

“As you know, the OIG has verified many troubling allegations at the MVAMC Emergency Department,” wrote the senators. “Our veterans deserve the best possible care available, and incidents like these and allegations of delayed care leading to the deaths of veterans at the Phoenix VA Health Care System are deeply troubling.”

“We therefore ask for a detailed update on the implementation of the recommendations made and agreed to in the Oct. 23, 2013 OIG report” and “ask that you provide us with information on any other issues preventing our veterans from receiving timely and appropriate care at the MVAMC,” the senators continued. “Now more than ever, it is imperative that the VA present a transparent accounting of the issues it faces and the steps it will take to address these challenges.”

On Tuesday, Senators Corker and Alexander wrote to VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki calling on the VA to conduct a “thorough, open and transparent” audit following reports of neglect at some of its medical facilities, including allegations that up to 40 patients may have died because of delayed care at the Phoenix VA Health Care System. The senators also asked Shinseki to provide specific information regarding the average time Tennessee veterans are waiting for care at VA facilities.

The full text of the letter to Under Secretary Petzel is below. 

Dear Under Secretary Petzel:

We write to you today to request an update on the steps taken by the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) in response to issues raised in the Oct. 23, 2013 Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Office of Inspector General (OIG) report entitled “Healthcare Inspection Emergency Department Patient Deaths Memphis VA Medical Center (MVAMC) Memphis, Tn.”

As you know, the OIG has verified many troubling allegations at the MVAMC Emergency Department. With claims of delayed care in the Emergency Department of the MVAMC prompting an OIG investigation in 2012 and this 2013 OIG report linking three deaths at the MVAMC to poor quality care, it is extremely important the VHA monitor its facilities and personnel to ensure that tragedies like this do not occur again. Our veterans deserve the best possible care available, and incidents like these and allegations of delayed care leading to the deaths of veterans at the Phoenix VA Health Care System are deeply troubling.

We therefore ask for a detailed update on the implementation of the recommendations made and agreed to in the Oct. 23, 2013 OIG report. Further, we ask that you provide us with information on any other issues preventing our veterans from receiving timely and appropriate care at the MVAMC. Now more than ever, it is imperative that the VA present a transparent accounting of the issues it faces and the steps it will take to address these challenges.

Thank you for your timely consideration of this matter.

Sincerely,

Bob Corker
United States Senator        

Lamar Alexander
United States Senator


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