Did falsifying 1,200 records endanger VA patients in Montgomery? Rep. Martha Roby says 'yes'

June 24, 2014
Representative Roby In The News

Rep. Martha Roby said reports that a physician with the Department of Veterans Affairs in Montgomery altered patient records to reflect tests that never occurred is just another example of mismanagement at the healthcare facility.

A recent investigation into whistleblower complaints by Carolyn Lerner of the U.S. Office of Special Counsel included reports that a pulmonologist with the Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System copied old notes onto new charts for more than 1,200 patients at the Montgomery VA facility.

The prior provider notes were copied into new patient records, resulting in what Lerner described as "inaccurate patient health information being recorded."

An investigation by the VA Office of Medical Inspector "could not substantiate whether this activity endangered patient health," Lerner noted.

Roby, R-Montgomery, is questioning the findings of the VA inspection.

"How can anyone think that falsifying more than 1,200 pulmonary records does not endanger patient health," Rep. Roby asked. "What good is a 'watchdog' if they are just going to downplay such obviously egregious behavior?"

VA officials said the pulmonologist is still employed by the Montgomery facility.

The special counsel report comes after a nationwide audit released earlier this month shows employees at the facility falsified records to hide actual times veterans waited to receive healthcare. The audit showed CAVHCS patients also faced some of the longest wait times in the country.

No employees have lost their jobs in connection to those findings.

Roby recently announced she was sending her chief of staff and military legislative counsel to Montgomery to meet with VA employees or others who have concerns about the health clinics.

"My office continues to look into numerous specific issues raised by constituents, and what we are learning is alarming," she said. "The Special Counsel's report is entirely consistent with what we have been hearing in terms of both phony medical practices and the VA's own inspectors' apparent inability to act aggressively on complaints.

"I am pleased that the Office of Special Counsel seems to be doing what the VA and its inspectors have thus far failed to accomplish: provide a simple, straightforward, and commonsense assessment of some of the serious problems at the VA. Too often, information from the VA has been clouded in confusing doublespeak. This I know from personal experience."