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Congressman Peter DeFazio

Representing the 4th District of OREGON

DeFazio-initiated VA Investigation into Roseburg VA Medical Center Will Lead to Updated Standards of Care

Jul 11, 2017
Press Release
Inspection by the VA’s Office of Inspector General uncovered outdated practices, non-uniform standards for gastrointestinal health practices

An investigation into alleged surgical safety issues at the Roseburg VA Medical Center, prompted by Congressman Peter DeFazio, will lead to updated standards of care for gastrointestinal patients at VA facilities across the country.

“We would never dream of sending our troops into battle with unclear directives and outdated, sub-standard methodologies and technologies, yet out-of-date standards are being used for their medical care,” said Rep. Peter DeFazio. “The VA needs to be held to the highest standards in all regards, but especially when it comes to veterans’ healthcare.”

In 2014, a constituent at a town hall meeting alerted Congressman DeFazio to claims of threats to patient safety at the Roseburg VA hospital.  At the request of Congressman DeFazio, the VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) conducted a healthcare inspection of the VA Roseburg Healthcare System.

The report, released today, found evidence of outdated medical practices at the Roseburg VA. These practices did not endanger patients. However, the OIG found the Veterans Health Administration (VHA)’s Colorectal Cancer Screening directive—requirements to track the quality of care—did not provide stringent guidelines to indicate high-quality care.

The investigation also found incidence of delays in some surgical and gastroenterology service areas. In one incident, a patient’s cancer diagnosis and notification of test results was delayed in part because of the patient backlog at the facility.

Although major professional society guidelines, including the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE) and the American College of Gastroenterology (ACG), have published guidelines for colonoscopy quality indicators, the VHA directives have not kept pace with best practices. 

Because of the findings in the report, the OIG has recommended to the Acting Under Secretary for Health that the VHA’s Colorectal Cancer Screening directive be revised to include up-to-date standardized documentation of quality indicators based on professional society guidelines and published literature to ensure that high-quality colonoscopies are performed.

“Our veterans ought to receive the highest standard of care,” added Congressman DeFazio. “I will continue to push the VA to update their standards to where they ought to be for our nation’s veterans.”

BACKGROUND

In 2014, a constituent alerted Congressman DeFazio to threats to patient safety at the Roseburg VA hospital.  Rep. DeFazio contacted the VA Inspector General (IG) and requested an immediate evaluation of the facility. In October of 2015, the IG informed Rep. DeFazio’s office that their investigation had not found any evidence of these claims. However, Congressman DeFazio alerted the OIG to testimony of U.S. Special Counsel before a Senate Committee that the complaints were accurate. Rep. DeFazio pressed the VA on these allegations and demanded a new investigation into the GI/Surgical departments in the Roseburg VA Healthcare System.