Posted on May 02, 2014

Seriously ill veterans have not been able to get timely medical appointment with the VA in Phoenix, AZ.  For example, a seriously ill veteran with bladder cancer was released from the VA emergency room in Phoenix and directed to see a primary care physician or a specialist within a week; the emergency room staff said this was an urgent recommendation.

Well, no one contacted him, and his family made numerous calls to the VA for weeks but with no success in getting an appointment.  This veteran died at the end of November from the cancer; he was taken to a non-VA emergency room and died with hospice care.  The VA finally called the veteran in December to make an appointment; this was over two months after the request, that was deemed urgent, and the veteran now was dead!

It turns out the Phoenix VA keeps two waiting lists:  one is a secret one and the other is one that shows it makes timely medical appointments.  The VA’s own rules say that a sick veteran needs to be seen by a doctor within 14 to 30 days of a request. Apparently, the Phoenix VA manipulates its waiting list so it looks like sick veteran are receiving appointments quickly.  However, what is happening is that 1400 – 1600 sick veterans in Phoenix are on a waiting list that prevents them from scheduling appointments right away.  The Phoenix VA only schedules an appointment when a slot becomes open that makes the waiting time look short.

Needless to say, investigations are going on; by the Inspector General and Congress.  Veterans that are medically injured by the wait may be eligible to file a medical malpractice case against the VA under the Federal Tort Claims Act or a claim for VA benefits.  If you think you were injured by the VA's actions, consult an experienced attorney or contact us.