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Opening Statement of The Honorable Corrine Brown

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for calling this hearing today.  We can all agree that veteran safety and quality of care issues at the VA health facilities are of utmost concern for this Committee.

However, It is unfortunate that we must continually call these hearings to make sure that our nation’s veterans are receiving the care for which they have already paid dearly for on the battlefields and in service to protect the freedoms we all hold most dear.

I find it disturbing that just 2 days before this hearing, the VA has releases findings that its healthcare personnel are not fully trained in the importance of timely consults when treating a veteran. 

The dictionary defines a consult as the act of seeking information or advice from someone with expertise in a particular area.

The system the VA set up to make these consults easier obviously broke down and it is possible that at least 5 veterans died in Florida because the right information was not shared with the right health professionals.

I am concerned that in the 5 years after the colonoscopy debacle at the Miami VA, nothing has changed.

To refresh your memory, in 2009, staff members at a number of VA facilities noticed improper reprocessing of endoscopes contrary to the manufacturer’s instructions. The VA properly ordered all facilities to Step-Up and get retrained on the procedures.  We want employees to feel free to report questionable issue and procedures without fear of retribution for trying to save lives.

It seems that from this new consult problem that the retraining stopped at that one procedure.

The fact sheet your office put out regarding the consults talks a lot about procedure and adverse events.  However, I have heard that before and again our veterans are suffering.

I look forward to hearing the testimony today and explanations for this lack of proper care and accountability for these mistakes.

VA

We have appropriated much money over the years to overhaul your computer system, and yet, you could not separate that heart consults are of a higher priority than a ride across town?

What kind of training did employees get before and how is the training different now?