12 OYS: Local vets died due to "roadblocks that delayed" cancer screenings, says VA

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- Charlie Norwood VA Hospital admits that there were barriers that delayed important cancer screenings for veterans.

Just months ago we spoke with a vet with liver cancer who said he believed the VA was delaying his cancer treatment.

"I want the original surgery they told me, I want it taken out of my body," Michael Hines said.

Suffering from liver cancer in September, veteran Michael Hines told News 12 he believed he was getting the runaround from officials at Augusta's VA hospital and the VA in Birmingham, Ala. He had concerns over how doctors were treating his disease.

"It would be cheaper for them if I die," Hines said.

He also says he believed the VA was delaying his treatment because of his age.

"I'm in my mid-50's, I'm never gonna see a liver," Hines said.

VA spokesperson Peter Scovill at the time said the agency would communicate with Hines concerning his care plan.

Meanwhile, News 12 has learned the Committee on Veterans' Affairs is investigating Charlie Norwood Hospital.

We obtained documents referencing an internal report that uncovered a list of more than 4,500 patients waiting to receive medical procedures that can detect some forms of cancer.

The document also cites five disclosures. The VA defines a disclosure as an "adverse event occurring during patient care that resulted in or is reasonably expected to result in death or serious injury."

Lawmakers have been expressing concerns about veteran treatment for some time including U.S. Representative Dennis Ross (R-Fla) .

"The VA has set a goal to provide an initial medical examination within 14 days from the time a veteran contacts a VA medical provider to schedule a consultation," Ross said.

But lawmakers say the VA is falling far short of that goal. VA officials in Augusta say they have made some systematic changes including eliminating some of the delays in the medical screening process.

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