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VA Hospital In Georgia Apologizes For Deaths After Delayed Care

Tue, 11/26/2013 - 9:44am
Nelli Black and Scott Bronstein

The director of the VA hospital in Augusta, Georgia, has publicly apologized for the deaths of three veterans at the facility that were caused by delays in care.

The rare public apology from an official at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs was prompted by a CNN exclusive investigation on Tuesday that detailed the deaths at the Augusta facility, and also other deaths and delays at other VA hospitals.

"All of us at the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center are deeply saddened by the loss of any veteran at our facility, " said director Robert Hamilton. "We offer our sincerest condolences to veterans affected by delays in GI care and families who have lost a loved one."

The CNN investigation revealed that military veterans are dying needlessly because of long waits and delayed care at U.S. veterans hospitals.

The investigation found that the situation has been especially dire at the Williams Jennings Bryan Dorn Veterans Medical Center in Columbia, South Carolina. There, veterans waiting months for simple gastrointestinal procedures -- such as a colonoscopy or endoscopy -- have been dying because their cancers aren't caught in time.

The VA confirmed to CNN that there have been six deaths at the Dorn facility tied to delays. But sources close to the investigation there told CNN the number of veterans dead or dying of cancer because they had to wait too long for diagnosis or treatment at that facility could be more than 20.

CNN learned from documents and interviews that other VA facilities have been under scrutiny by officials over possible delays in treatment or diagnoses.

Shortly before CNN published its report Tuesday, the VA acknowledged that there have been concerns about delay of care at some of its other facilities.

At the Augusta medical center, the VA confirmed Tuesday to CNN that three veterans died as a result of delayed care. Internal documents at that facility showed a waiting list of 4,500 patients.

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