Hearing reveals criminal investigation into backlog at Dorn VA

Published: Feb. 26, 2014 at 9:56 PM EST|Updated: Mar. 8, 2014 at 8:59 PM EST
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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WIS) - Three Wm. Jennings Bryan Dorn VA Medical Center executives left their jobs after six deaths occurred that could've been prevented.

Following a Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General report released in early February, members of an oversight committee asked VA officials tough questions Wednesday to get to the bottom of what happened at Columbia's VA hospital.

Dr. Robert Petzel, under secretary for health for the VA, admitted to Congressional representatives that there was a criminal investigation completed by the Inspector General's Office at Dorn VA concerning the backlog of gastrointestinal cases from 2012. No criminal intent was found.

"There's no way to hold them accountable when people die because of their failures," said U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kansas.

Petzel explained that the responsible individuals left their jobs before disciplinary action could be taken.

"If somebody wishes to retire or resign, we cannot prevent that from happening," Petzel said.

One of those senior officials to leave Dorn VA was former director Rebecca Wiley. WIS asked Dorn for the names of the other two executives, but has not received that information.

Congressional members also asked about issues concerning VA medical centers in Memphis, Tenn., Augusta, Ga., and Pittsburgh. There were 14 serious disciplinary actions taken total by VA officials with six senior executives relieved of duties in the last two fiscal years, which include the three from Dorn VA.

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