The Department of Veterans Affairs outpatient clinics, and hospitals have some problems, and some issues in dire need of solutions. One of the problems in need of a solution is the complaint process. Currently, if a Veteran has a problem, they are encouraged to go to the Patient Advocate; however, this system allows the VA to identify the complaining Veteran, and as I have found out, retaliate against that Veteran.
People in the civilian sector, and most of the Veterans, are unaware of the capability built into the electronic health record system enabling the Veterans Administration to flag a chart. I understand the need for employees to be aware a particular Veteran has the propensity to be violent, but conversely I fear this ability to “flag” a veterans’ medical record could be abused. I can see how such a system could lead to veterans being blacklisted by the very institution entrusted to care for them.
I would not feel this way if I did not have first hand experience with retaliation from a VA employee. A few years back I had a problem with an employee at the VA. I wrote a letter of complaint in the hope my problem would be corrected. Up until 2 years ago I assumed the problem had been handled. I gave no second thought to the matter until I was literally confronted by the same employee I complained against. This happened over the phone when I had a problem that came under this particular persons’ job duties. Moreover, since this incident, I have had several problems with that persons co-workers. To say the least, I am afraid to speak my mind anymore out of fear of reprisals. They have made it clear to me that everything I say, and do at the VA is being monitored. To me it is all a bit over the top considering I had a legitimate complaint; furthermore, I have NEVER threatened, or abused an employee at the Veterans Administration. The only “sin” I commited was to comlain about harsh treatment.
If I can have this many problems because I wrote ONE letter complaining about harsh treatment, imagine how bad it could be for others? By the way, if you are a Veteran, or the spouse/family member of a Veteran, take my advice and do not complain to the Patient Advocate. The Patient Advocates in the Veterans Administration clinics, and hospitals are a joke. They are there to protect the VA, not the Veterans. Do not fall into the same trap I have fallen into. Avoid the Patient Advocate like the plague. Take your complaints higher up the food chain. Contact your representatives in Washington, D.C., I know I will.
It does not take much of a mental leap to see how a system that allows employees to abuse patients, could use the option to electronically flag a patients chart, in a way that is not consistent with quality, compassionate care. Dare I use the word ‘blacklist”? I do not think it would be too far out of bounds to do so.
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