VA medical centers are falling short in their obligation to investigate and, if warranted, address concerns that may arise about the care their medical providers deliver, GAO has said in a report and testimony to a House subcommittee.

Depending on the nature of the concern and the findings of their review, VA medical center officials may limit the care the providers are allowed to deliver at the facility or prevent them from delivering care altogether. Those officials further are required to report such actions to a national databank used by other VA medical centers, non-VA hospitals, and other health care entities, and to report to state licensing boards when there are serious concerns.

However, GAO found in a review of five medical centers that there was no documentation that half of the required reviews of a total of 148 providers had been conducted. All five “lacked at least some documentation of the reviews they told us they conducted, and in some cases, we found that the required reviews were not conducted at all.”

Of those that were conducted, many were not done in a timely manner, it added, saying that in 16 cases they were not started until more than three months after the initial concerns were raised and in several the delay was “multiple years.”

A VA official told the panel that the department is taking steps to address those issues.