The inspector general of the Department of Veterans Affairs has found no evidence that the Minneapolis VA manipulated or falsified records in the death of a Minnesota Marine whose family said did not get timely treatment for a seizure disorder at the Minneapolis VA hospital.
The inspector general announced the decision late Friday after members of Minnesota's congressional delegation requested an investigation into the death of Jordan Buisman following a television report questioning the Minneapolis hospital's procedures.
VA records had shown a neurology exam for Jordan Buisman was rescheduled four days after his death.
In a letter Friday, Acting VA Inspector General Richard Griffin wrote that the investigation found no evidence of falsified or manipulated records in Buisman's case.
In a joint statement, Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken and Rep. Tim Walz released a statement:
"Regardless of the IG's findings, the broader and more important issue for the health, well-being, and peace of mind of veterans and their families is the question of access to timely care, especially in life-threatening situations. Jordan was forced to wait too long to get the care he needed. The VA can and must do better, and we will continue working to hold them accountable and improve care for our veterans."
Buisman had been told he'd have to wait nearly 70 days to see a specialist at the Minneapolis VA neurology clinic for his epilepsy, which had forced him to leave the Marine Corps. The 25-year-old former corporal died Nov. 26, 2012 — 24 days before his appointment.
Four days after his death, someone wrote in his VA records that Buisman had canceled his neurology appointment and requested a later date, KARE-TV reported recently.
Buisman medically retired from the Marines after developing epilepsy and suffering a series of seizures.
The inspector general reviewed electronic data from its automated appointment system, which allows veterans to call and request changes to their appointments.
In its letter to the congressional delegation, the inspector general said an e-mail shows that Buisman used his cellphone to call the VA's automated appointment center to cancel an appointment on Nov. 26 at 11:17 a.m., and that he died later that day.
The notification generated by his telephone call was subsequently transmitted to a VA schedulers' e-mail group on the following day, Nov. 27, at 6:01 a.m.
At 10:11 a.m. that day, the scheduler who ultimately canceled Buisman's appointment transmitted a response to the schedulers' group that she would take care of the request. The scheduler was on leave on Nov. 28. On Nov. 30, she entered a note in the system that she had canceled the patient's appointment as requested and tentatively scheduled him for the next available appointment, which was Jan. 17, 2013.
At the time the scheduler entered this note, she was unaware that the veteran had died, the inspector general said.
"Based on this information, we have closed our investigation on the allegation that a deceased veteran had called after his death to reschedule his appointment and plan no additional work on that issue," the letter said.
The inspector general is continuing to investigate other allegations involving inappropriate scheduling practices in the gastrointestinal clinic at the Minneapolis VA hospital. There is no indication how long that investigation will take.