ST. CLOUD, Minn. (KMSP) - An investigation by the VA into staffing issues at the St. Cloud Veterans Medical Center finds managers were playing with the numbers.
The report was triggered by a Fox 9 investigation last year in which some doctors complained an excessive workload was compromising patient care. The report, released Thursday by the Office of Inspector General (OIG), found St. Cloud management "inaccurately represented” information about doctor-to-patient ratios to Rep. Tim Walz and the news media. The numbers they provided made it look like physicians weren't as overloaded with patients.
The OIG says it did not find evidence in St. Cloud of so-called "ghost panels" -- a tactic to assign patients to physicians who were not actively providing care to give the appearance of lower doctor-to-patient ratios for the rest of the facility staff. But the Inspector General says it did find "ghost panels" being used at VA centers in Iowa City and the Black Hills.
You can find both reports at http://www.va.gov/oig/apps/info/OversightReports.aspx
Statement from Rep. Tim Walz and Rep. Tom Emmer
“This report by the VA Office of Inspector General validates our most serious concerns: that panel sizes were misrepresented by St. Cloud VA leadership and they were larger than reported. Misrepresenting panel sizes is completely unacceptable and a serious breach of the public trust. We call on the Secretary of the VA to hold anyone who intentionally misled veterans, Members of Congress and the public accountable and we fully expect that whistleblowers who alerted us to the discrepancy will not be retaliated against. We will continue our oversight to ensure veterans in St. Cloud have critical access to high-quality care.”
FOX 9 INVESTIGATION - Abusive work environment claims at St. Cloud VA