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Former Local VA Clinic Doctor Calls Investigation 'Worthless'
Dr. Joseph Spann may be as sick and tired as some of his former patients. For 17 years he was a physician at the Austin Veterans Administration Outpatient Clinic. Now he's adding his voice to rising chorus complaining that VA medical facilities have a case backlog and conspired to hide it.
The VA recently conducted an internal review in Austin and found no problems. But Dr. Spann calls that investigation "worthless," adding, "The Central Texas Veterans Healthcare System investigating itself is absurd. They need an outside independent source to look at things."
Dr. Spann says he took his complaints about the local VA clinic to the feds to stand up for his former co-workers. He says, "They're hard working. They care a lot. Many of them are veterans themselves and they want to see improvement."
Dr. Spann says the clinic would often delay radiologic procedures for weeks or months. He called it, "...frustrating especially when you had patients who were anxious to find out what was wrong with them, if they had cancer or didn't have cancer."
And if the feds are having trouble finding evidence of the backlogs -- he suggests they check the emails. Dr. Spann says emails were sent to the physicians sometimes weekly or two saying the ultrasounds were backed up for six weeks, "...so when you order one put your order out six weeks from now."
Dr. Spann suggests the problems at the Austin Clinic arise from the fact that despite its size -- the Austin VA clinic is really just an outpost for the Temple hospital.
He adds, "The Austin clinic is essentially run out of Temple. It's 70 miles away. The people who call the shots and make the decisions often just have computer screens to look at."
He's calling for more boots on the ground in Austin to help handle the growing case load.
The VA Hospital in Temple sent us this written statement in response to Dr. Spann's complaints about the Austin clinic:
"A Central Texas Veterans Health Care System review of Imaging Service activities within the Austin Outpatient Clinic was conducted. The review revealed no requests were made by the Chief, Imaging Service to physicians to change the requested date for ultrasounds, MRIs and CT scans. Imaging appointment dates were changed if the requested diagnostic test was available earlier than requested or if Imaging Service determined that a diagnostic test was medically indicated before the date requested."
By Fred Cantu