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September 17, 2014

Whistleblowers: Inspector General's Report on VA Waitlist Deaths "Softened" Conclusions By Applying "Impossible Standard" By Which No Death Could be Attributed to Undue Wait Times

A lot of people died on the VA's secret wait lists.

That's a political problem. It's also a human tragedy and an outrage, but for politicians and bureaucrats, that doesn't matter. What matters is the political problem.

So how do you fix it?

I don't mean "how do you fix the VA." Bureaucrats and politicians have little interest in that. And bureaucrats have a positive interest in not fixing it - the organization didn't get this way randomly: Someone is benefiting here, and that of course is the people who the bureaucracy actually deforms itself to benefit, the bureaucrats themselves.

I mean, "How do you fix the political problem?"

You can't bring those people the VA killed back. But you can write up a report that claims that no one died due to the wait-list.

What they died from, you see, was cancer, heart attacks, and so forth.

That's the cause of death.

There is no generally-recognized medical cause of death called "death due to delayed treatment due to being put on the VA's wait-list."

So, see, in medical terms, no one died due to the wait-list.

The issue surrounds the investigation into whether more than 40 veterans at the Phoenix VA died while waiting to see the doctor. The IG's final report in August concluded that it "[could not] conclusively assert" that long wait times "caused the deaths of these veterans."

According to one whistleblower who spoke to CBS News, however, that crucial assertion was not in the original draft of the report. He told CBS News that the Inspector General added the line about how wait times did not cause the deaths at the last minute....

"The organization was worried that the report was going to damn the organization," the whistle-blower said. "And therefore it was important for them to introduce language that softened that blow."

...

"We did not find sufficient evidence (that any) delay resulted in death," added the statement.

But that conclusion, that no deaths were caused by delays, seemed to conflict with the rest of the report. For example: "28 instances of clinically significant delays" were found, including delays linked to six deaths. And findings indicated either "treatment" or "an appointment for this patient might have changed the outcome."

Per Hot Air:

The Arizona Republic raised questions about the same issue last week, and what they found makes the "inserted a line" explanation for the finding look suspect. They looked at the IG's methodology for determining correlation and/or causation and asked medical experts to review it, and they concluded that the IG used a "virtually impossible" standard for that effort.

Per The Arizona Republic:

Inspector General Richard Griffin, who oversees the VA's internal watchdog agency, stressed in his Aug. 26 report that investigators were "unable to conclusively assert that the absence of timely quality care caused the deaths" of Arizona veterans who died while on secret wait lists for appointments.

Media outlets widely ­reported that whistle-blower allegations were exaggerated and that veterans were not ­severely affected by wrongdoing at the Phoenix VA medical center.

Which was the point: Problem fixed!

But health-care experts say Griffin's report used a measure that is not consistent with pathology practices because no matter how long a patient waits for care, the underlying "cause" of death will be a medical condition, rather than the delay.

Put simply, people die of pneumonia, heart conditions and bullet wounds -- not waiting to see the doctor.

...

Dr. Gregory G. Davis, current head of the association and chief medical examiner in Jefferson County, Ala., also questioned the standard used in the Office of Inspector General report.

"I can't imagine a circumstance where someone would word it that way," he said.

I can imagine the circumstances: You wish to file a report that says the bureaucracy isn't responsible for anyone's deaths.

Huh. The VA is using deceptive paperwork to cover up their failures? Who'd've guessed.

It is no longer the case that 40 veterans died on the secret wait-lists; the number is now up to nearly 300.

And the IG will, I imagine, similarly find that it cannot quite prove those men died for want of timely treatment, either, though, gosh, it sure tried!

As Everybody Knows.


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posted by Ace at 01:28 PM

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