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Watchdog: Veterans At Phoenix VA Hospital Waited On Average 115 Days For First Appointment

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Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki re-enters the hearing room after testifying to the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee about wait times veterans face to get medical care on May 15, 2014 in Washington, D.C. (credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki re-enters the hearing room after testifying to the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee about wait times veterans face to get medical care on May 15, 2014 in Washington, D.C. (credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — The Department of Veterans Affairs’ internal watchdog says veterans at the Phoenix VA hospital waited on average 115 days for their first medical appointment.

That’s 91 days, on average, longer than the hospital had reported.

An interim report by the inspector general says investigators have “substantiated serious conditions” at the hospital, including 1,700 veterans who were waiting for an medical care but were not on an official waiting list.

The inspector general is investigating 26 VA facilities nationwide, including the Phoenix hospital. The review follows allegations that several veterans died while awaiting treatment and that secret waiting lists were created to hide delays in care.

“[W]hile conducting our work at the Phoenix HCS our on-site OIG staff and OIG Hotline received numerous allegations daily of mismanagement, inappropriate hiring decisions, sexual harassment, and bullying behavior by mid- and senior-level managers at this facility. We are assessing the validity of these complaints and if true, the impact to the facility’s senior leadership’s ability to make effective improvements to patients’ access to care,” the report stated.

A report Wednesday says 84 percent of veterans at Phoenix waited more than the agency target of 14 days for an appointment.

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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