The FBI will investigate criminal allegations at the Department of Veterans Affairs medical facility in Temple, Texas according to U.S. Rep. John Carter, R-Round Rock.
“I believe that the FBI needs to be investigating the Temple VA facility for criminal activities, and the Veterans Affairs Administration needs to be investigating the facility as well to administer cultural and bureaucratic reforms,” Carter said in a release.
The FBI is already investigating claims that VA employees manipulated wait time data at medical facilties across the country, but hasn’t specified which facilities were under investigation beyond the Phoenix VA in Arizona.
Former Austin VA doctor Joseph Spann, a whistleblower, alleges that the chief of radiology at the VA’s Olin Teague Veterans’ Medical Center in Temple regularly asked physicians to change their requested date for ultrasounds, MRIs and CT scans to hide the existence of long wait times for tests. Central Texas VA officials denied Spann’s claims following a review.
The Temple VA has a long history of scheduling violations.
A 2012 investigation of Temple’s Olin E. Teague Veterans’ Medical Center found that officials there had grossly undercounted the wait times for gastrointestinal appointments, including those used to diagnose colon cancer.
The Central Texas VA claimed 96 percent of appointments for new patients were scheduled within 14 days of desired dates, but according to a VA inspector general report, actual wait times were several months long. The review also found long waits for colonoscopies for patients who had tested positive for cancer, despite standards requiring those exams to be conducted within 60 days. In April 2011, less than 15% off colonoscopies were conducted within the required time frame at the Temple VA.
The long wait times were covered up by inputting bogus appointment requests closer to appointment openings. Local VA officials did not dispute the findings of the inspector general and pledged to reduce wait times and provide “special training” to scheduling clerks.