The Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System in New Orleans failed to properly assess hundreds of veterans for traumatic brain injuries during a ten-year span, reports CBS News.
Traumatic brain injuries can happen when there is a blow, bump, or jolt to the head. They can also happen when an object penetrates the skull. More than 185,000 veterans who use the VA for their healthcare have been diagnosed with at least one TBI, according to the latest research compiled by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center reported nearly 414,000 TBIs among U.S. service members worldwide between 2000 and late 2019.
But the facility in New Orleans has been slacking, according to former healthcare workers there.
"Most of my patients have been in a vehicle that's hit an IED [improvised explosive device] and exploded," Dr. Frederic Sautter, a psychologist who spent nearly three decades counseling veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder at the VA in New Orleans. "I was noticing many of them were having headaches, having memory problems."
"These are people who need to be identified," he added. "They need to be brought into the VA and evaluated."
Sautter told CBS News he compiled a list of hundreds of veterans who screened positive for a TBI but never got the mandated follow-up.
Priscilla Peltier, a registered nurse who started working in physical medicine and rehabilitation at the New Orleans VA Medical Center in June 2017, told CBS News she attempted to follow up with the veterans on Sautter's list. She was told no and to "lose the list" by Dr. Robert Mipro, chief of physical medicine and rehabilitation.
"How could we not try to do something?" she said. "That's why we're there. We took an oath. I took an oath when I became a nurse."
The VA investigated Sautter's claims and concluded that "New Orleans failed to provide appropriate care … to those veterans with positive initial screening for TBI."
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