Thursday, December 1, 2011

VA Shuffles Schedules to See More First-Time Patients

Pressure to see U.S. veterans seeking mental health care at VA medical centers has led to scheduling more new patients but putting off follow-up visits for existing patients to create the needed additional clinic time, argued a witness at a Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing in Washington yesterday.

While new patients may be seen within 14 days to meet VA goals, returning patients may have to wait four to six weeks for appointments, according to the Washington Post. The Pentagon and VA have sought to encourage voluntary mental health care among troops and veterans, but delays such as those described at the Senate hearing may discourage many from remaining in treatment, testified Michelle Washington, director of PTSD services at the Wilmington, Del., VA Medical Center. Committee chair Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) asked the VA inspector general to investigate.

For more on veterans' mental health care, particularly PTSD care, see Psychiatric News.

(Image: Straight 8 Photography/


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