Veteranclaims’s Blog

September 24, 2010

GAO Issues Failing Marks at Five VA-Medical Facilities

Full Article at: VA contracting problems disclosed; Cochran next stop for investigators

BY BILL LAMBRECHT>>202-298-6880 | Posted: Thursday, September 23, 2010 3:00 pm |

WASHINGTON — Investigators from the Government Accountability Office plan to arrive at the John A. Cochran Medical Center in St. Louis in early October in another inquiry spurred by the recent scandal over improperly sterilized dental equipment.

GAO officials announced their intentions today at a House subcommittee hearing examining how the Veterans Administration makes its purchases and oversees some $9 billion of its spending.

In the GAO’s preliminary assssment after visits to five other VA hospitals, the veterans’ agency received some failing marks.

Investigators found contracting shortcomings in all five government-run hospitals, in some cases creating “potential risks to veterans’ safety.”

Among the problems at an unidentified hospital was the incorrect purchase of supplies used in dialysis, risking veterans to exposure to HIV and other infections, the GAO reported.

The GAO, Congress’s nonpartisan investigative arm, examined VA hospitals in Detroit, Cheyenne, Albany, Miami and Palo Alto.

The VA’s Inspector General’s office also delivered a withering report on VA contracting. In 60 of 65 contracts examined, involving $83 million, investigators found oversight lacking.

Procedures to better control and oversee contracting could save taxpayers $130 million over five years, Belinda Finn, the VA’s assistant inspector general, said.

Responding to questions from Rep. Russ Carnahan, D-St. Louis, Debra Draper, the GAO’s director for health care, said investigators from her office had added Cochran to the list of hospitals to be examined.

Draper said in an interview that at Cochran, the GAO would be looking at safety issues “related to the purchase and tracking of expendable supplies and reusable medical equipment.”

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