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Hundreds of Thousands of MRI Orders Cancelled at VA Hospitals

Mass cancellations of imaging scans at Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals across the country have prompted the VA inspector general to conduct audits at nine medical centers.

Hospitals in Tampa and Bay Pines Florida; Salisbury, North Carolina; Cleveland, Ohio; Dallas, Texas; Denver, Colorado; Las Vegas, Nevada; Los Angeles, California; and Iowa City, Iowa are the subjects of these audits. An USA Today investigation has found that VA hospitals in Columbia, South Carolina have up to 29,512 outstanding imaging orders, and in Cleveland, around 21,600 orders have been cancelled. The number of total cancellations topples 250,000.

According to the report, VA hospitals in Tampa were found to have canceled thousands of imaging orders without communicating with doctors or their patients. Dana Strauser, one of the ultrasound technologists who has accused the hospital of unnecessarily canceling orders, said that “doctors will put an order in for six months in advance and sometimes even a year in a advance, and we were getting cancellations of those future orders.” The technologists have expressed that by denying veterans imaging scans, they face even greater health risks, especially considering that they’ve been exposed to lethal toxins like Agent Orange.

In Iowa City, an administrative staff member says she and her colleagues were instructed to “clean” up a “backlog of incomplete diagnostic orders, some dating back years.” This order resulted in destroying thousands of orders. The VA claimed that many of image orders were “outdated or duplicated.” Radiology technologist Jeff Dettbarn notified the hospital’s compliance officer after he noticed that many imaging orders were being cancelled but not by doctors. However, Dettbarn is now in disciplinary proceedings, which he considers to be retaliation.

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