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VA Leadership Vows to Fix Problems Identified at Marion VA Medical Center
Date:1/28/2008

WASHINGTON, Jan. 28 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) today affirmed its determination to quickly address problems at its Marion, Ill., hospital. The VA today released the results of two investigations into concerns involving patient care at the Marion facility.

VA's Inspector General was contacted by Dr. Michael J. Kussman, VA's Under Secretary for Health, on September 10, 2007 and also subsequently by Congress, to perform a comprehensive review of surgical services at the facility after VA's National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (NSQIP) found there was a higher death rate than expected during the period from October 1, 2006 through March 31, 2007. Representatives of the NSQIP program visited Marion from August 29-30, 2007. Their follow-up report led to the immediate suspension by Veterans Health Administration (VHA) leadership of all major surgeries at the hospital, which have not been resumed.

"We found the problems ourselves; we took immediate action to keep patients from being harmed as soon as we knew what was going on; we're extremely sorry for what happened; and we'll hold those who created the problems accountable," said Dr. Michael J. Kussman, VA's Under Secretary for Health. "We're determined to do what's right for our veterans and their families, not only at Marion, but everywhere in VA's medical system."

The Inspector General's report, augmented by a separate internal review by VA's Medical Inspector begun on September 4, 2007, identified four areas in which Marion employees failed to comply with Federal and local regulations and VA directives and procedures. They include:

-- Quality management: Some reviews of the quality of care at the facility were improperly done; cases selected for review by physicians' peers (a required practice in health care settings called "peer reviews") were not always properly evaluated; and patient deaths were inadequately and insufficiently
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SOURCE U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
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