VA Cited for Neglecting Follow-Up Treatment for Depressed Vets

VA Cited for Neglecting Follow-Up Treatment for Depressed Vets

10) Veterans Administration Doctor
Wikimedia Commons
By Brianna Ehley, The Fiscal Times

The embattled Veterans Affairs Department is once again under scrutiny for potentially violating agency guidelines when treating patients—this time, failing to ensure that veterans with depression are receiving sufficient follow-up care after being prescribed anti-depressant medication.

That’s the conclusion of an investigation by the Government Accountability Office. The GAO reviewed patients being treated for depression at six separate VA medical centers and found that after the veterans received anti-depressants, their doctors did not conduct follow-up appointments within four to six weeks, as the VA requires

Related: VA Wastes Millions, But Still Wants More as Vets Wait for Care

In its review, the GAO said that among all patients whose records were reviewed—almost none of them received check ups with doctors in the required time after they were given anti-depressant medication.

"Given the debilitating effect that depression can have on veterans' quality of life, VA's monitoring of veterans with [depression] is critical to ensuring they receive care that is associated with positive health care outcomes," GAO director of health care Randall Williamson said in congressional testimony this week. He went on to criticize the VA for not following its own guidelines to assure veterans receive sufficient treatment.

“This work illustrates, once again, a continuing pattern of VHA's [Veterans Health Administration] noncompliance with its own policies and established procedures,” Randall Williamson, the GAO's director of health care said in congressional testimony last week.

Separately, the GAP flagged the VA’s Behavioral Health Autopsy Program which is used to collect data on veterans that have committed suicide in order to inform policy decisions, saying it is plagued with inaccuracies.

Auditors said that the system had incorrect dates of death—sometimes off by one day, sometimes off by a whole year. The GAO said this made it nearly impossible to assess what kind of treatment they were provided.

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Reuters
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By The Fiscal Times Staff

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By The Fiscal Times Staff

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