20/20 Report on VA system

Nurses General Nursing


I'm in the central time zone and saw a 20/20 report on VA hospitals last night. I never heard anything good about them but I never heard anything this bad before.

It was a hidden camera report and it showed behavior by nurses that was not just unprofessional but downright cruel.

Dropping off food trays for paralyzed patients........then leaving the room. The report said that they didn't see anyone feed him for 2 days!!

Fecal matter on the walls

Bedsores galore

Clean and dirty utility in the same room

The OR had an open sewer drain that they said got clogged once in a while and flooded the room

Ambulatory patients not being walked or gotten out of bed or wheelchair that deteriorate to invalids(these patients were followed up in private care thriving)

Got the docs too:

Missed diagnosis causing death

Residents performing surgery without supervision(they actualy used textbooks in the OR!!!) The ortho doc that was supposed to supervise was shown going to his own practice that was double booked

Patients that have never seen thier doctor and have always been treated by residents.

Patients waiting 7 months for outpatient treatment.

These are veterans of our armed forces for gawds sakes!


Katnip, RN

2,904 Posts

Ok. That's just plain disgusting. How can they get away with this? Don't they have to be inspected?

I hope this report opens some eyes and causes some big changes.


28 Posts

They go through JCAHO inspections like most hospitals. I have to think this is one bad place, I dont think they are all this terrible.


127 Posts

actually they really are that bad. i did my clinical rotation there. Bedridden patients are not being turned every couple hours. Nurses don't seem to care that much either.

Katnip, RN

2,904 Posts

I kow they aren't all that bad. I've been to a couple of them around here. But even if it's just ONE, it's shameful and disgusting and should not be allowed to happen.


213 Posts

i think most va hospitals are much better than this one depicted. however, all are ridden with problems. my husband works for a va outpt. clinic. he complained because there is a 6 month waiting list to get a 24 hour halter monitor for a patient. the don of the facility said "maybe your clinic is ordering too many." all the facilities are victims of the cutbacks and financial constraints.


130 Posts

I was appalled and shocked. The whole VA system aside...these nurse should be disciplined and fired!!!

I am angry that they could be placed in a position to care for patients and be so UNcaring. They have violated every tenet of nursing I know of.

Every nurse is taught to turn patients, every nurse knows about sterile technique, every nurse is taught to change a dressing. Every nurse I know of is taught that THEY are the advocate for the patient and that sometimes THE NURSE is all that stands between the patient and death.

That this type of atmosphere was allowed and allowed to fester is a great testament to the inadequacies of management...they too, bear responsibility in these patient deaths and nosicomial complications. They too, should lose jobs, and be severely santioned.


3,778 Posts

Specializes in Trauma,ER,CCU/OHU/Nsg Ed/Nsg Research.

I've worked agency at the VA hospital here, and most of the problems are structural from what I've noticed. Not enough staff, they are all federal employees, the one here uses team nursing (which I hate- not very conducive to continuity of care), low pay, the techs were doing things like dressing changes. I hated the way staffing was done there.

My husband is a veteran, and gripes about the outpatient care he has gotten (mostly the waiting, no privacy, extremely rude secretaries, etc.). Several months ago, he hurt his back at work enough that it impaired his bowel function and he could hardly walk. Now, this is an ex Marine who would rather die than admit any kind of pain. He got no x-rays, and was told to go home and take some Motrin. 2 weeks later with no change, I had to call them myself and push for something to be done.

I do have to say that I never saw any of the nurses there be more than kind and caring. I think they just work in a bad system, and I don't feel they are to blame. They were really great nurses, and they worked their tails off. They just need more help, and I guess the government isn't willing to pay for that help. They'd rather get per diem agency staff in there that they won't have to worry about paying retirement benefits etc. to, because in the long run it's a lot cheaper. No flame on agency nurses- I was one myself for a few years.


3,778 Posts

Specializes in Trauma,ER,CCU/OHU/Nsg Ed/Nsg Research.

OOps- I forgot to point out something...the ungloved dressing change seen in the program very well could have been a tech- not a nurse. As I said in the above post- techs do dressing changes at the VA hospital here. A very bad way to run things- I want to do my own drsg changes so I can assess the wound, and make sure it's done right.

BadBird, BSN, RN

1,126 Posts

Specializes in Critical Care.

How awful for those poor veterans. I have recently begun a job at the VA and our floor is WONDERFUL, I am amazed daily at the care these patients receive, we don't have the issues that came up in that program, one can only hope that the ones caught on tape will be fired and replaced with compassionate nurses. It seems so sad that the elderly defensless patients are so neglected, I realize that program targeted the VA but I believe it is more widespread because of the condition of some patients that we get in ICU from various nursing homes.

Specializes in 5 yrs OR, ASU Pre-Op 2 yr. ER.

This is sad. Anyone in need of care deserves the best. It scares me that i have friends that are career military, and that they might up in places that are like that.


81 Posts

Let's not forget that you can get bad care anywhere. My husband is a veteran. He's been disabled since 1984. The VA here in town can have some of the most advanced technology and at the other end they can have some outdated stuff. I worked for agency for awhile and got the chance to work at the VA. They had the BCA Med System and computerized documentation. They had some of the latest IV pumps and a type of auto-blood transfusion system that I got to learn from the facility. I learned a lot of new things. They still had wards. One thing, the veterans and family members that were there seemed to be frequent flyers and knew how to get what they wanted. They knew the hospital better than the nurses. They even knew who was the Chief Officer (I didn't. Eheh :rolleyes: ). Many of them would go no where else for treatment. Of course, you have the ones that hear the stories about bad health care at a certain VA facility and assume that they are all alike, therefore, they wouldn't be caught dead at one.

Anyway, like I said before, you can get bad care anywhere. Heck, they all most killed me at one of the ****TOP CLASS A HOSPITALs****. I was supposed to have had the best surgeon (Tsk!) Whatever! Hmph! I'm pissed about it still. It is about to ruin my career! *&^%!!! :angryfire

You can read about my thyroidectomy from hell on my web page. I, also, have a pic of me with a trach tube. If you're a member of yahoo groups, look it up. I didn't tell the whole story on the web page. I guess there should be a Part Deux-Deux.

This is no jab at male nurses, but like I said in a recent post, I had a mean male nurse in MICU. He reminded me of ZZ-Top. He scared the hell out of me! The drugs that they had me on didn't help any.



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