Veteranclaims’s Blog

August 7, 2010

California Opthalmologist Group Calls for Congressional Investigation of Palo Alto-VA

Full Article at:
State ophthalmologists call for congressional investigation of Palo Alto VA

By Bonnie Eslinger

Daily News Staff Writer

“Frustrated by the federal government’s reluctance to investigate whether improper care caused 23 glaucoma patients at the VA hospital in Palo Alto to suffer significant vision loss, a California ophthalmologists’ group has asked a House committee to step in.

Dr. Craig Kliger, executive vice president of the California Academy of Eye Physicians, made the request in a July 21 letter to House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Bob Filner.

Kliger told The Daily News his group is flustered because it’s “never been able to get a clear answer” about whether there’s been an investigation into the matter — either at the state or federal level — beyond the initial internal probe.

“We keep taking the necessary steps to do our best to get to the bottom of this; it seems to be in the public interest,” Kliger said. “It goes to the qualifications of people and what qualifications are needed to treat glaucoma.”

In February 2009, the VA Palo Alto Health Care System sent letters to eight glaucoma patients informing them that their clinical care may have been compromised. The letters followed an internal review of 381 patient charts, which determined that 23 glaucoma patients experienced progressive visual loss while receiving treatment from the hospital’s optometry department.

The internal probe focused on the optometry section’s failure to follow hospital policy, which requires optometrists to consult with ophthalmologists on all glaucoma

After the problem was discovered, the optometry section was moved directly under the supervision of the ophthalmologists, VA hospital spokeswoman Kerri Childress said.

“No veteran was blinded, but all eight had some level of vision loss, which — after the investigation — was determined MIGHT have been avoided had the veteran been seen by an ophthalmologist earlier,” Childress wrote in a July 27 e-mail to The Daily News.

There was no further internal investigation, she said in a July 30 e-mail to The Daily News.”

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