Report: Florida VA took too long to verify veteran's status instead of treating him

The VA Office of Inspector General said in a recent report that staff at the Malcolm Randall Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Gainesville, Florida put bureaucracy ahead of a comatose veteran's medical needs shortly before he died.

According to a 38-page investigative report, in the summer of 2020, a man was brought to the hospital unresponsive and in a coma. Ambulance staff told nurses the man's initials and left a number for a family member, but did not leave any additional information.

The report said nurses spent time valuable time checking whether or not he was indeed a veteran, instead of treating him. Instead, the ambulance crew transported the man to UF Health Shands Hospital nearby, where the man died.

In its review, it was determined that the man was a veteran, who was eligible for care at the VA medical center.

The inspector general makes specific recommendations, including ensuring staff put patient care ahead of veteran status, ensuring nurses are up-to-date on training, and that an internal review of the case be conducted.

"We embrace high reliability and are committed to zero harm for our patients," the hospital said in a statement. "We remain dedicated to honoring our nation’s veterans by ensuring a safe environment and delivering exceptional health care through continuously improving our standards."

The report said a similar case happened in 2019, which lead to more staff training.