Holder: No Plans to Investigate Deaths at VA Hospitals

Image: Holder: No Plans to Investigate Deaths at VA Hospitals

Wednesday, 14 May 2014 10:57 AM

By Melanie Batley

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Attorney General Eric Holder said the Justice Department does not have any plans to investigate the deaths of 40 veterans who were placed on secret waiting lists at a Veterans Affairs hospital in Arizona.

"Well, obviously these reports, if they're true, are unacceptable, and the allegations are being taken very seriously by the administration. But I don't have any announcements at this time with regard to anything that the Justice Department is doing," Holder said at a news conference Tuesday, according to the Daily Mail.

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"This is something on our radar screen at this point, but there is an investigation being done by the [VA] inspector general, and we'll see what happens as a result of that inquiry and other information that comes to light in some form or fashion," he added.

In April, CNN reported that long waiting times resulted in the deaths of at least 40 veterans at the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care system, many of whom died while on a secret waiting list whose purpose was to conceal how long patients actually have to wait before being seen by a physician.

The Department of Veterans Affairs subsequently admitted that 23 veterans suffering from cancer died while awaiting medical appointments at VA hospitals throughout the system, while another 53 patients suffered some type of harm as a result of "consult" delays in gastrointestinal cancer screenings, including routine but life-saving colonoscopies.

The VA department has launched a national audit to determine how long veterans are waiting for healthcare, and following outrage by lawmakers, a hearing is scheduled in the Senate for Thursday to review the widespread allegations.

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