Ex-VA doctor: Phoenix report a 'whitewash'

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

WASHINGTON (AP) — A doctor who first exposed serious problems at the troubled Phoenix Veterans Affairs hospital says a report on patient deaths there is a "whitewash" that minimizes life-threatening conduct by senior leaders at the hospital.

Dr. Samuel Foote, a former clinic director for the VA in Phoenix, says a report by the department's inspector general appears designed to "minimize the scandal and protect its perpetrators rather than to provide the truth."

The Aug. 26 report identified 40 patients who died while awaiting appointments in Phoenix, but said officials could not "conclusively assert" that delays in care caused the deaths.

Foote, who is now retired, told a House committee that the inspector general repeatedly downplayed facts and minimized consequences for patients who ended up on secret waiting lists and who eventually died.