VA Mistakingly Tells 1200 They Have Fatal Disease

I’ve mentioned several times in the past, such as here, that liberal bloggers who consider the VA to be a model for a health care system are being misled by faulty data. The computer systems used by the Veteran’s Administration allow them to appear far better than they actually are due to the limitations in quality measurements used for health care. Essentially whoever can do the best job of reporting what they are doing will generally come out ranked the highest regardless of the actual quality of the system.

The VA’s system generally helps them receive a much higher ranking than they deserve but today they have been embarrassed once again due to a flaw in their system. AP reports that the VA erroneously sent letters to over a thousand people telling they have a disease they do not actually have:

Former Air Force Reservist Gale Reid received a letter from the Veterans Affairs Department that told her she had Lou Gehrig’s disease, and she immediately put herself through a battery of painful, expensive tests. Five days later, the VA said its “diagnosis” was a mistake.

The Montgomery, Ala., resident was among at least 1,200 veterans who received a letter about disability benefits for ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, even though they hadn’t been diagnosed with the illness, according to the National Gulf War Resource Center. Veterans were initially suspicious of the letters, but still went through the agony not knowing exactly whether they had the fatal disease, which typically kills people within five years.

At least 2,500 letters informing veterans of disability benefits for ALS were sent out, and of those, some 1,200 were a mistake, according to the National Gulf War Resource Center. The wrongly sent letters were supposed to inform veterans of an undiagnosed neurological disorder, according to the Gulf War veterans group, which provides information, support and referrals about illnesses to veterans…

Jim Bunker, president of the veterans group, said he talked to someone at the VA and was told the mistake was caused by a coding error. The VA uses more than 8,000 codes for various diseases and illnesses and veterans with undiagnosed neurological disorders, which can range from mild to severe, were accidentally assigned the code for ALS, he said.

The article notes other problems uncovered this year:

In June, Congress questioned the agency over botched colonoscopies at medical centers in Florida, Georgia and Tennessee that may have exposed 10,000 veterans to HIV and other infections. Last month, the VA Medical Center in Philadelphia disclosed that the number of cancer patients receiving incorrect radiation doses had risen to 98 veterans over a six-year period.

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