Phoenix VA hospital under fire for alleged delayed medical care

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By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

PHOENIX -- The VA hospital in Phoenix is under fire. Congress is now looking into claims that dozens of patients may have died while waiting for medical care.

The hospital is fighting accusations that workers also hid records of the wait times.

This comes as the Department of Veterans Affairs released a report this week showing that two veterans in Phoenix died waiting for medical treatment, but one congressman says that number is a lot higher and is calling for a full-blown investigation into the Phoenix veterans hospital

In congressional hearing, Florida Rep. Jeff Miller questioned a report that found 27 veterans across the country died because of long wait times for health care at the VA.

Miller chairs the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs and during the hearing he dropped a bombshell allegation that the VA may be misleading the public about the delay-related death toll at the Phoenix VA.

"It appears as though there could be as many as 40 veterans whose deaths could be related to delays in care," Miller said.

Miller accused the Phoenix VA of keeping a secret waiting list that didn't show how long veterans were really waiting for potentially life-saving medical treatment.

"I've been made aware of internal e-mails from within the VA that suggest that Phoenix VA may have been using  an unofficial electronic waiting list where veterans were placed on that unofficial list until an appointment became available," he said.

News of the lethal delays prompted outrage from numerous Arizona politicians like Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick, who released a statement saying, "These allegations are appalling and unacceptable. Delayed care is denied care."

Valley resident Sally Eliano said her father-in-law, Thomas Breen, died because of delayed care. She said he was on a waiting list when he died of bladder cancer last year.

"They did it all wrong, that's my opinion, and I believe they neglected an honorable soldier/human being and there's a lot more out there," Eliano said. 

Miller is calling for an investigation into this matter. 3TV tried reaching the VA for comment but never heard back.