Members of Minnesota’s congressional delegation on Tuesday called for further investigation into the death of a Minnesota Marine whose family said did not get timely treatment for a seizure disorder at the Minneapolis VA hospital.
VA records show a neurology exam for Jordan Buisman was rescheduled four days after his death, according to a televised report.
Buisman had been told he’d have to wait almost 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.
Buisman medically retired from the Marines after developing epilepsy and suffering a series of seizures.
On Tuesday, members of Minnesota’s congressional delegation reacted to the news report, calling on the VA’s Office of Inspector General and the Department of Justice to include the case in an ongoing probe of scheduling delays at the Minneapolis VA hospital and possible manipulation of records.
A Rochester VA outpatient clinic also has been flagged for additional investigation over scheduling questions.
VA inspectors were in town recently to investigate reports from two former employees who said they were ordered to alter appointments and scheduling times in the hospital’s gastroenterology department and then were subjected to retaliation and dismissal when they complained.
“It is unacceptable for veterans to have their care delayed, and to have those delays covered up, and it is essential that we get to the bottom of what happened at VA facilities,” said Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., in a statement.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said she has raised the issue with the secretary of Veterans Affairs and will continue to urge the VA Office of Inspector General and the Department of Justice to swiftly investigate the reports.
“No veteran should be denied timely medical care, and those responsible for any doctoring of records or delay in care must be held accountable,” she said in a statement. “When these men and women signed up to serve, there wasn’t a waiting line, and there shouldn’t be a waiting line when they come home.”
U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, D-Minn., a veteran and a member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, also sent a letter to the VA’s Inspector General demanding that the circumstances of Buisman’s death be verified.
“To reform the VA and restore the public’s trust, we must rid it of anyone who puts themselves ahead of caring for veterans,” Walz wrote in his letter.
Asked for comment, a spokesman for the Minneapolis VA said it asked for and welcomed the inspector general’s investigation into scheduling delays. The spokesman said it could not discuss Buisman’s case because of ongoing litigation.