More than 1,350 patients who requested an appointment at the St. Louis Veterans Affairs medical center never received care, according to a VA audit of scheduling and access management practices across the country.
The St. Louis medical center ranked No. 12 nationally in the number of patients that were never seen over the 10-year period after requesting an initial appointment, while the medical center in Kansas City had 188, Poplar Bluff had 102 and Columbia had 71.
Site audit teams visited 731 VA hospitals from May 12-16, including four in Missouri, and the VA released the audit results on Monday. The VA said it wanted to determine if allegations about inappropriate scheduling practices are isolated instances of improper practices or if broader, more systemic problems exist.
“Meeting a 14-day wait-time performance target for new appointments was simply not attainable given the ongoing challenge of finding sufficient provider slots to accommodate a growing demand for services,” the report summary said.
Seven percent of appointments were scheduled 30 days after they were requested at the Poplar Bluff facility, while 4 percent of appointments were scheduled after 30 days at both the St. Louis and Kansas City facilities. One percent of appointments at the Columbia hospital were scheduled after 30 days.
Of the 61,885 appointments scheduled at the St. Louis facility, 548 appointments were scheduled between 91 and 120 days. In contrast, of the 61,743 appointments scheduled at the Columbia hospital, 117 appointments were scheduled between 91 and 120 days. Kansas City had 140 of its 34,514 appointments scheduled between 91 and 120 days, while Poplar Bluff had 43 of the 11,004 appointments made scheduled after 91 days.
The St. Louis medical center had the sixth-longest average wait time for new patients seeking specialty care, 86 days, according to an analysis of the audit by The Associated Press. Columbia had the 12th worst ranking in that category, with an average wait time of 66 days. For established patients seeking specialty care, the Poplar Bluff site’s average wait time of 10 days was seventh-worst.