Nearly 700 complaints over waits at Madison VA

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MADISON, Wis. (AP) — There have been nearly 700 complaints about the timeliness of getting health care at Madison's Veterans Hospital over the last two years, according to records obtained by the Wisconsin State Journal.

The State Journal ( ) reported Sunday that the records don't seem to indicate any evidence of harm, but several complaints outline potentially dire situations: For example, one man with kidney cancer wondered why his treatment started three weeks after his diagnosis, and one man with blood in his urine couldn't get an appointment with a urologist for six weeks.

Many complaints about the timeliness of care involved getting prescriptions filled, receiving test results, waiting at clinics and having appointments canceled.

The hospital is holding a town hall meeting Tuesday to let veterans and family members air concerns. The meeting is part of a national review of the VA health care system, after reports that veterans at the Phoenix VA hospital died while waiting for care.

A nationwide audit in June found that the average wait for a new patient to see a primary care doctor at the Madison VA hospital was 51 days. Hospital spokesman Tim Donovan says the wait has been shortened to 18 days, partly by filling vacant positions.

Surgical staffing and hours have also been extended, and the VA sometimes pays to let patients see private providers, he said. Still, the wait for specialized care such as surgery can be long.

"We do have a high demand for surgical care, and there are certainly times patients wait longer than ... they or we would prefer," Donavan said. "But we're doing the best we can to balance our resources with patient demands."

The hospital said it received 314 complaints about the timeliness of care from October 2012 to September 2013 and 395 such complaints from October 2013 to June 11, when the State Journal made its request. Twenty-five of the complaints seemed to be duplicates, bringing the total number to 684.


Information from: Wisconsin State Journal,

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