Veteran says VA hospital misreported medical treatment

Updated: 06/05/2014 6:05 PM | Created: 06/05/2014 5:30 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

There are new accusations that the Albuquerque VA Hospital systematically delayed medical care for thousands of veterans and fabricated wait time records. U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham charges that up to 3,000 patients were assigned to a doctor who doesn't actually see patients – and the horror stories keep coming.

Consider the case of Brad Svetich of Carlsbad, an Army and Navy veteran who was stationed in Iraq. Svetich lost his left eye to a rare form of cancer. It's in remission now, but he needs a CAT scan once a year. He recently switched his health care to the VA.

"I was supposed to have a CAT scan in February here. Well, it never came up, never came up. We kept on calling and wondering and then they were telling my wife that we had to get ahold of a primary doctor--he has to set up a CAT scan."

But when he finally got an appointment, Svetich said the doctor was under a different impression.

"We went into his office and he said, 'How did the CAT scan go,' as he was looking at Brad's medical records on file," said Christine Svetich, Svetich's wife. "I said, 'What are you talking about?' He said, 'Albuquerque put in that you had your CAT scan done in February, so how did it go?' I said, 'We were never there!' They had his stats, they had everything, but we were never there!"

Svetich did eventually get a CAT scan and he says he loves the doctors and nurses at the VA, but his case is part of the ever-growing scandal over secret wait lists and phony records in VA hospitals nationwide.

In response, Rep. Lujan Grisham is demanding big changes.

"I think that what we're going to expose across the country is that these are not isolated incidents, that this is the status quo of the veterans' health care system and it's going to have to be completely redone because it's completely broken," she said.

The congresswoman is holding a veterans' town hall meeting this Saturday at the Smith-Brasher Hall on the CNM campus. The meeting will last from 3-5 p.m. She wants to hear from any veterans who have ever had problems at the Albuquerque VA hospital.

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