No. of Recommendations: 8

dozens of VA hospital patients in Phoenix may have died while awaiting medical care.

Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., said staff investigators also have evidence that the Phoenix VA Health Care System keeps two sets of records to conceal prolonged waits that patients must endure for ­doctor appointments and treatment.

"It appears as though there could be as many as 40 veterans whose deaths could be ­related to delays in care," ­Miller announced to a stunned audience during a committee hearing Wednesday.

Dr. Sam Foote, who retired from the Phoenix VA in December, provided the newspaper documents he filed with the VA inspector general seeking investigations of alleged medical-care failures and administrative misconduct.

In a Feb. 2 letter to the inspector general — also sent to Miller; Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.; Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Ariz.; and the U.S. Attorney's Office — Foote said the Phoenix system is afflicted by "gross mismanagement of VA resources and criminal misconduct" that produced "systemic patient safety issues and possible wrongful deaths."

He wrote that IG investigators came to Phoenix late last year and verified allegations he'd made in an October complaint, yet no Arizona administrators were removed and "patients are still dying. How can that be three months after I first notified you of the problem?" he asked.

Foote and other whistle-blowers said that Arizona VA executives collect bonuses for reducing patient wait times, yet purported successes stem from manipulation of data instead of improved service to ailing veterans.
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