The Office of Special Counsel has said that whistleblowing disclosures regarding long waiting times for endoscopy procedures at the VA medical center in Orlando have been confirmed, leading the department to offer 245 veterans on the waitlist access to community-based care instead.
The OSC said it referred to the VA complaints that more than 450 veterans at the Orlando center were awaiting endoscopy procedures beyond 30 days from the date deemed clinically appropriate by a VA health care provider.
The VA “determined that the rate of colonoscopy screenings for at-risk veterans within 180 days or less of identifying positive preliminary indicators was declining. This drop increased the risk of delays in diagnosis and treatment of colorectal cancer. The report further acknowledged that the wait times between preliminary evaluations and colonoscopies appeared to be increasing, and thus, raising the risk for other medical conditions to worsen and complicating the ability to complete the colonoscopy,” the OSC said.
Wait times—and whether the publicly reported data understated them—triggered numerous investigations and changes in VA law in recent years, including expansion of options for care outside the VA system but paid by the department, and enhanced disciplinary powers for VA management against employees.