Safety blog posts: Blog post Number 7
Patient Safety and the Veteran’s Administration
I have been silent with the blog in part because we are moving our office one block away to a new location and that has occupied quite a bit of our time. Additionally I had to give some thought to what was going on with the Veterans Administration issues that clearly involve elements of patient safety. There is no doubt that many of the patients in the the VA hospital system receive excellent care, oftentimes in spite of and not because of the system.
In previous posts on this blog I have referred to system errors and system problems. The VA places a burden on good healthcare workers forcing them to deliver excellent health care in a suboptimal or really terrible setting.
There is no end to the problems of this nature that occurred in the VA system. Many of the problems can be traced back to management of the VA healthcare system by bureaucrats. The VA healthcare system is plagued by civil servants who are out of control. The civl servants cannot be removed from their positions regardless of poor performance. Such a system of healthcare delivery appears to be designed to fail. Unfortunately the VA is the living model for Obamacare; big government controlling or providing medical care.
Off with their heads, really?
Making sacrificial lambs out of the hierarchy at the VA will not likely cause meaningful change to the way that patient care is delivered in the VA hospital system. The Veterans deserve better delivery of their care, care which when they are able to get care is often excellent. I by no means wish to denigrate the superb care given by some of the nurses, physicians, and other healthcare providers in the VA system. However they should not have to deliver the care at such great personal and emotional expense. There is a political group in the country simply believes that throwing more money at a problem will result in a solution to the problem. Throwing more money at this problem is not the solution. The VA system appears is hampered by the civil servants who rights and privileges far exceed those of all around them.
What to do?
What did not work was the fake management approach of the previous administration. Eight years of doing nothing other than meaningless public relations work did not work. Our current president has inherited the problematic VA organization from members of the opposing party. All party flavors of president have been unable to “fix” the VA. Something far more radical than a simple fix will be required to ensure durable positive impact on the VA. We can and will fix these problems and others in the VA.