Doctor accuses VA hospital staff of delaying patient care

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Doctor Accuses VA Hospital Staff Of Delaying Patient Care

A former hospital employee in Phoenix has accused staff members of having a secret waiting list for patient care. Now, three executives for the city's Veterans Affairs Health Care System, including a hospital director, are on administrative leave pending an investigation.

Dr. Samuel Foote, who worked at the hospital, says delayed care led to more than 40 deaths and the hospital is doing the right thing by putting the employees on leave.
Doctor accuses VA hospital staff of delaying patient care
FILE - Sen. John McCain, left, R-AZ, and Sen. Jeff Flake, R-AZ, hold a news conference to discuss recent reports that dozens of VA hospital patients in Arizona may have died while awaiting medical care in the Phoenix VA Health Care System, adjacent to the VA Hospital in this Friday, April 18, 2014 file photo taken in Phoenix. Growing concerns about allegations of gross mismanagement and neglect at the Phoenix VA Health Care Center have resulted in a commitment by the chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee to hold a hearing, members of Arizona's congressional delegation said Thursday April 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)
FILE - With Vietnam military veteran Chuck Tharp, right, listening in, Sen. John McCain, second from left, R-AZ, and Sen. Jeff Flake, left, R-AZ, finish up a news conference to discuss recent reports that dozens of VA hospital patients in Arizona may have died while awaiting medical care in the Phoenix VA Health Care System, adjacent to the VA Hospital in this Friday, April 18, 2014 file photo taken in Phoenix. Growing concerns about allegations of gross mismanagement and neglect at the Phoenix VA Health Care Center have resulted in a commitment by the chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee to hold a hearing, members of Arizona's congressional delegation said Thursday April 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)
Joined by military veterans and local politicians, Sen. John McCain, second from right, R-AZ, and Sen. Jeff Flake, far right, R-AZ, hold a news conference to discuss recent reports that dozens of VA hospital patients in Arizona may have died while awaiting medical care in the Phoenix VA Health Care System on Friday, April 18, 2014, in Phoenix. Last week's disclosures by current and former Department of Veterans Affairs employees is leading to investigations by the House Committee on Veterans Affairs and the Inspector General for the VA are looking into not only the deaths, but allegations of falsified record keeping and medical reporting. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
FILE - Sen. Jeff Flake, left, R-AZ, shakes hands and speaks with Vietnam veteran Chuck Tharp, right, after a news conference where Flake and Sen. John McCain, R-AZ, discussed recent reports that dozens of VA hospital patients in Arizona may have died while awaiting medical care in the Phoenix VA Health Care System in this Friday, April 18, 2014 file photo taken in Phoenix. Growing concerns about allegations of gross mismanagement and neglect at the Phoenix VA Health Care Center have resulted in a commitment by the chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee to hold a hearing, members of Arizona's congressional delegation said Thursday April 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)
With the VA Hospital in the background, Sen. John McCain, R-AZ, speaks and Sen. Jeff Flake, front right, R-AZ, listens at a news conference to discuss recent reports that dozens of VA hospital patients in Arizona may have died while awaiting medical care in the Phoenix VA Health Care System on Friday, April 18, 2014, in Phoenix. Last week's disclosures by current and former Department of Veterans Affairs employees is leading to investigations by the House Committee on Veterans Affairs and the Inspector General for the VA are looking into not only the deaths, but allegations of falsified record keeping and medical reporting. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
A military veteran stands next to his bicycle as Sen. John McCain, left, R-Az, and Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Az, arrive for a news conference to discuss recent reports that dozens of VA hospital patients in Arizona may have died while awaiting medical care in the Phoenix VA Health Care System, Friday, April 18, 2014, in Phoenix. Last week's disclosures by current and former Department of Veterans Affairs employees is leading to investigations by the House Committee on Veterans Affairs and the Inspector General for the VA are looking into not only the deaths, but allegations of falsified record keeping and medical reporting. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Sen. John McCain, middle, R-AZ, speaks and Sen. Jeff Flake, right, R-AZ, listens as they join military veterans and local politicians for a news conference to discuss recent reports that dozens of VA hospital patients in Arizona may have died while awaiting medical care in the Phoenix VA Health Care System, on Friday, April 18, 2014, in Phoenix. Last week's disclosures by current and former Department of Veterans Affairs employees is leading to investigations by the House Committee on Veterans Affairs and the Inspector General for the VA are looking into not only the deaths, but allegations of falsified record keeping and medical reporting. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
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"There is quite a tangled web that has been weaved. It's going to take the IG a while to sort through all that, but I think they are getting excellent input from the staff."

Foote told KPHO he has physical proof he has shared with the inspector general's office, but he can't show his information to reporters while the investigation is ongoing.

But, after an internal investigation, the head of veteran health services at the VA says it hasn't turned up any evidence of a secret list or deaths due to delayed care. Foote is still backing what he has said before. KSAZ reports, "I don't know how he can possibly make that statement. There is a mountain of evidence on that subject sitting on the IG desk in Phoenix, and it's growing larger every single day."

Along with Foote's allegations, the hospital's medical director, Dr. Katherine Mitchell, told The Arizona Republic the VA hospital has had problems with being understaffed in the past.

"I was afraid that a patient would die because I could not get to them fast enough. I did not have the resources. ... Unless we had additional staffing ... the ER would be too dangerous to continue, and we should be shut down immediately."

So far, no comment from any of the employees who are on administrative leave.

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