Report: VA Hospital Left Body of Veteran ‘Unattended’ in Shower Room for 9 Hours

This May 19, 2014 photo shows a a sign in front of the Veterans Affairs building in Washington, DC. AFP PHOTO / Karen BLEIER
Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images

Some employees at the hospice unit of the Veterans Affairs medical center (VAMC) in Bay Pines, Florida, attempted to cover up the mistake of leaving a deceased veteran in a shower room for more than nine hours, reports the Tampa Bay Times, citing a hospital investigation.

“At first, the body was moved to a hallway in the hospice, then to a shower room, where it stayed, unattended, for more than nine hours,” a 24-page report on the investigation issued in April and obtained by the Tampa Bay Times through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request states.

The incident at the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System has prompted the hospital to require employee retraining and institute a change in procedures, revealed Jason Dangel, a spokesman for the VAMC.

Some hospice employees “demonstrated a lack of concern, attention and respect” for the veteran, notes the investigation report conducted by the VA hospital’s Administrative Investigation Board.

In the report, hospital employees are accused of stalling efforts to find out how the incident happened, lying about why the problem took place, and “falsely” documenting the incident.

Although the hospital spokesman noted that “appropriate personnel action was taken,” he reportedly declined to elaborate on whether staff members have been fired or disciplined, citing employee confidentiality rules.

“We view this finding as unacceptable,” declared Dangel, later adding, “It is our expectation that each veteran is transported to their final resting place in the timely, respectful and honorable manner. America’s heroes deserve nothing less.”

According to the Tampa Bay Times, the investigation did not provide information about the veteran, who perished in February at the hospice unit of the Bay Pines facility.

The report determined that some staff members at the hospice unit violated hospital and VA guidelines by “failing to provide appropriate post-mortem care,” including adequate transportation of a body to the morgue.

It also found that the deceased veteran had been subjected to an “increased risk of decomposition” after being left unattended for hours.

Under the Obama administration, various VA hospitals centers have come under fire in recent years for keeping long wait lists of veterans in need of essential care, a move that resulted in the death of some veterans while waiting for care.

President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to ensure American veterans have convenient access to top quality healthcare services.

In October 2015, the incoming Republican president unveiled a plan to reform the veterans healthcare system.


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