Report: VA continues to struggle with patient safety at Topeka, Leavenworth hospitals

Live at Five
Published: Sep. 26, 2023 at 2:28 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - A new report has found that the VA continues to struggle with patient safety in its Topeka and Leavenworth hospitals as proper oversight of opioid prescriptions still lacks attention.

U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), ranking member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, says that on Tuesday, Sept. 26, he responded to the Office of Inspector General’s report about the Veterans Health Administration’s oversight of the Eastern Kansas Health Care System. The system oversees the VA hospitals in Topeka and Leavenworth.

In his response, Sen. Moran highlighted that the VA still struggles to appropriately manage and oversee aspects of patient safety in community and VA medical facilities. This has been the standard in the five years since the MISSION Act was signed into law. The bill attempted to strengthen the VA Health Care System with more options provided for veterans.

Specifically, the report found the facilities were not conducting proper oversight of the prescription of opioids and were not reporting concerns to the third-party administrator. In two cases, patients received multiple controlled substance prescriptions from a combination of system, non-system and CCN providers.

“I am concerned by a growing pattern of negligence by the VA in coordinating veteran care and holding providers accountable,” Moran said. “This report highlights the importance of careful treatment and supervision of veteran patients with chronic pain and mental health conditions.”

Moran said the report begged the urgent need to pass the Veterans’ HEALTH Act to improve the level of care provided, ensure the law is followed and strengthen coordination of care and information between the VA and the community.

The Senator noted that he recently met with VA Inspector General Missal to discuss the issue and meetings will soon be sought with VA leadership in Kansas and in D.C. Meanwhile, the VA and Optum Health are required to implement the recommendations made by the Inspector General to ensure veterans receive high-quality and safe care.

“VA is the primary coordinator of care for veterans, and it is their responsibility to follow the law and ensure veterans are receiving the safest and best care possible,” Moran concluded.

The Senator recently introduced the Veterans’ HEALTH Act to protect and expand access to care, safeguard the ability to choose providers and require the VA to improve the quality of care veterans receive.

The Eastern Kansas Health Care System has told 13 NEWS that the investigation the report is based on happened in the early summer of 2022. The system received the results and report in June of 2023.

Since the report was received, VAEK has said it has created an action plan which was submitted on June 17 and has been in place since. Since the action plan was submitted, the system has met all its benchmarks. Hires have been made to address shortages and oversight within the system has been addressed.

However, VAEK noted that it still awaits guidance from the national level for the issues highlighted in the report hat are governed by federal guidelines.

The Eastern Kansas Health Care System noted that safety is its highest priority.

To read the full text of the Veterans HEALTH Act, click HERE.

To read the full Inspector General’s report, click HERE.