John Cochran VA
6:22 pm
Mon June 11, 2012

Carnahan, McCaskill respond to report on veterans’ care at John Cochran

Updated 8:50 am Tuesday with statement from Sen. Blunt.

The US Veterans Administrations Inspector General has issued a report following complaints that a nurse did not act appropriately when treating two patients receiving hemodialysis treatment at the John Cochran VA Medical Center.  

The nurse  did not report changes in one of the patient’s condition, and the 57-year-old man died the next day, according to the report.  

The report says another patient, a 56-year-old man with a history of heart problems, did not receive less than standard treatment from the nurse.         

During the investigation the Inspector General says it identified leadership problems within the hemodialysis department, and issued six specific recommendations for improvement. 

In a statement released Monday afternoon, U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) says she is concerned by the findings:

“Today’s report is another reminder of the important work that still lies ahead in ensuring our nation’s heroes are getting the best possible care. I’m encouraged the St. Louis VA Medical Center took this investigation seriously, and has made progress in implementing the VA’s suggestions—but I plan to keep a close eye on this situation and ensure we don’t lose any ground in the victories we’ve won for veterans’ care over the past few years.”

U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan, D-St. Louis, also commented on today's report:

“Our VA Hospital must continue to make the reforms that ensure we protect the veterans who sacrificed so much to protect us,” said Carnahan. “While improvements have been made in some areas, I fear that the VA IG report may only recommend solutions to prevent this exact mistake from happening again. One step forward, two steps back is simply not good enough. 

Republican Senator Roy Blunt issued this statement:

"It is unacceptable that another report has revealed ongoing problems with the medical care the St. Louis Veteran Affairs Medical Center provides to veterans. The fact remains that my continued calls for an explanation from the VA regarding the dysfunction at this St. Louis facility remain unanswered, and the problems continue to worsen. Clearly, effective leadership is lacking in several areas, and there’s a disturbing disconnect between the VA Department in Washington and its St. Louis staff. We have a responsibility to provide the utmost care for our nation’s veterans. Once again, I urge Secretary Shinseki to move forward with an immediate explanation and resolution to this disturbing situation."

In April, a report issued by the VA’s  Inspector General’s office found continued problems with sanitizing dental instruments at the Cochran Medical Center.  

According to that report, two out of three specific recommendations that were made after a 2011 inspection have not been corrected.  In 2010 the St. Louis VA notified more than 1,800 veterans that they may have been exposed to HIV, hepatitis or other viruses because of unclean conditions in the dental clinic.