Outrageous Report: VA Hospitals Used 'Grey Market' Devices, Supplies
Today is the 239th birthday of the United States Marine Corps and it's a day before the country observes Veterans Day, but a new report is calling attention to more issues within the VA.
The Washington Times reports that VA doctors have been using bogus devices and supplies at VA hospitals. These include items that could have been stolen, misbranded or even counterfeit.
Unauthorized and potentially counterfeit, dangerous surgical devices and medical supplies have flowed unchecked into the Department of Veterans Affairs supply chain and into VA operating rooms, according to internal agency correspondence from a major supplier who blamed new procurement rules.
The bogus supplies gained a foothold when the department started using reverse auctions to fulfill some contracts, according to both department officials and a 2012 memo from Johnson & Johnson, the world’s largest medical device business.
In the memo, the company told the VA it was getting surgical supplies bought from unauthorized distributors through the so-called “gray market,” and said those supplies raised serious questions about patient safety, according to emails obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.
Officials also warned the VA that an ongoing corporate investigation into the gray market showed how some unauthorized sellers were passing off products stolen from other hospitals.
“We do not believe that the VA intended for its efforts to utilize new procurement tools such as reverse auctions to result in these outcomes,” a company official wrote.
The Johnson & Johnson memo included a list of seven gray market surgical supply purchases by agency medical centers in a half-dozen states. But the company made clear there were more examples across the VA.
This comes after numerous reports in recent months about secret waiting lists for appointments at VA hospitals.
Reporter Jim McElhatton joined Kimberly Guilfoyle and Brian Kilmeade this morning to explain how "grey market" medical devices made their way into VA medical centers.
He said the concerns about these devices were disclosed to top VA acquisition officials in 2012.
In an interview with "60 Minutes" last night, new VA Secretary Bob McDonald promised a major overhaul of the Department of Veterans Affairs, saying he believes as many as 1,000 employees should be fired.
He acknowledged that firing government employees, however, is not a quick process.
Alex Nicholson, legislative director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), said on "The Real Story" that many VA employees are great and these 1,000 or so of the 300,000 total VA employees are "bad apples."
He said that fixing the problem, however, will require a culture change.
"It's really going to take quite a number of years, I think, before you really start to see change in the VA."
Showing just how under-equipped the VA has been, McDonald also said he intends to hire nearly 30,000 medical professionals as he moves forward with major reforms.
Doug McKelway reported on the VA overhaul this morning, emphasizing that getting rid of bad employees is a lengthy process that includes a judge and possible appeals process.
Many of the so-called "bad apples" are now on administrative leave while the firing process proceeds.
Watch his report below.