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Senate Investigation Finds "Systemic" Failures At VA Watchdog

- May 31, 2016

Today, A Senate Investigation Revealed Widespread "Systemic Failures" By The Veteran Affairs Inspector General's Review Of The Veteran Affairs Medical Center In Tomah, Wis.. " A Senate investigation of poor health care at a Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Tomah, Wis., found systemic failures in a VA inspector general's review of the facility that raise questions about the internal watchdog's ability to ensure adequate health care for veterans nationwide… One of the biggest failures identified by Senate investigators was the inspector general's decision not to release its investigation report, which concluded two providers at the facility had been prescribing alarming levels of narcotics." (Donovan Slack, "Senate Investigation finds 'Systemic' Failures At VA Watchdog," USA Today , 05/31/16)

  • The Probe Found The VA's Inspector General "Discounted Key Evidence And Witness Testimony, Needlessly Narrowed Its Inquiry And Has No Standard For Determining Wrongdoing." "The probe by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee found the inspector general's office, which is charged with independently investigating VA complaints, discounted key evidence and witness testimony, needlessly narrowed its inquiry and has no standard for determining wrongdoing. " (Donovan Slack, "Senate Investigation finds 'Systemic' Failures At VA Watchdog," USA Today , 05/31/16)

"One Of The Biggest Failures" Was That The VA IG Failed To Release An Investigative Report That Would Have Forced VA Officials To Publicly Address The Excessive Prescription Of Narcotics At The Facility. One of the biggest failures identified by Senate investigators was the inspector general's decision not to release its investigation report, which concluded two providers at the facility had been prescribing alarming levels of narcotics. The facility's chief of staff at the time was David Houlihan, a physician veterans had nick-named 'candy man' because he doled out so many pills. Releasing the report would have forced VA officials to publicly address the issue and ensured follow up by the inspector general to make sure the VA took action. Instead, the inspector general's office briefed local VA officials and closed the case." (Donovan Slack, "Senate Investigation finds 'Systemic' Failures At VA Watchdog," USA Today , 05/31/16)

  • The Chief Of Staff At A VA Facility Was Nick-Named "Candy Man" For Prescribing So Many Pills. "The facility's chief of staff at the time was David Houlihan, a physician veterans had nick-named 'candy man' because he doled out so many pills. Releasing the report would have forced VA officials to publicly address the issue and ensured follow up by the inspector general to make sure the VA took action. Instead, the inspector general's office briefed local VA officials and closed the case." (Donovan Slack, "Senate Investigation finds 'Systemic' Failures At VA Watchdog," USA Today , 05/31/16)

The Investigation Raises Concerns That The VA's Watchdog Is Able To Ensure "Adequate Health Care For Veterans Nationwide." "A Senate investigation of poor health care at a Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Tomah, Wis., found systemic failures in a VA inspector general's review of the facility that raise questions about the internal watchdog's ability to ensure adequate health care for veterans nationwide." (Donovan Slack, "Senate Investigation finds 'Systemic' Failures At VA Watchdog," USA Today , 05/31/16)

According To The Report, In Three Months "The VA Investigated And Substantiated A Majority Of The Allegations That The VA OIG Could Not Substantiate After Several Years.""'In just three months, the VA investigated and substantiated a majority of the allegations that the VA OIG could not substantiate after several years,' the committee report notes." (Donovan Slack, "Senate Investigation finds 'Systemic' Failures At VA Watchdog,"USA Today, 05/31/16)


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