Judicial Watch’s FOIA campaign has turned up more evidence in the VA scandal.
According to the government watchdog, documents that it obtained in March reveal that “on November 25, 2009, the Office of Inspector General was informed that top VA officials had ordered a nationwide purge of ‘all outstanding [MRI] imaging orders for studies older than 6 months.’ Seven days later, on December 2, 2009, the OIG closed its investigation without taking further action.”
According to the Judicial Watch documents, whistleblower Oliver Mitchell repeatedly tried to persuade the OIG to investigate the mass destruction of veterans’ files and the cancellation of examination requests. Instead, the OIG spent barely two months investigating, before closing up shop.
Judicial Watch received two batches of documents from the VA OIG in response to the February FOIA request. The first was a five-page document containing the revelation that the GLA had sent a memo to the OIG in November 2009 revealing that Dr. Charles Anderson, the VA National Radiology Director, had sent instructions to conduct the purge. According to the GLA memo, sent in response to an OIG inquiry:
During the period of time in question, the backlog of outstanding requests for MRI Imaging studies across the Veterans Health Administration dated back 10 years. Central Office and the office of Dr. Charles Anderson, National Radiology Director, instructed all Imaging Services across the country to mass purge all outstanding imaging orders for studies older than 6 months, where the procedure was no longer needed, and with approval from the individual healthcare system’s Medical Executive Committee (MEC) ….
The memo failed to explain either how decisions were made as to which “procedures were no longer needed,” or what would warrant the “approval from the individual healthcare system.” The OIG investigation, conducted from September 23 to December 2, 2009, was closed within seven days after the GLA memo was received.
Anderson is still employed by the Veterans Administration. He works at the VA’s hospital in Durham, NC.
The OIG had his name, yet closed the investigation.
Judicial Watch’s Tom Fitton says that the intentional records purge “shows that the Obama administration long knew of the deadly abuse being suffered by our nation’s veterans at the hands of the VA and did nothing about it. Can you imagine waiting months to have a MRI only to have it cancelled by a government bureaucrat? The American public should thank Oliver Mitchell for coming forward and blowing this whistle on this deadly corruption.”
In May 2014, two unnamed workers at the Durham, NC VA hospital were placed on administrative leave in connection with the scandal.