Apparently an audit of Iowa and South Dakota Veteran hospitals found 2,300 patients assigned to primary care “ghost panels”. A ghost panel is an assignment to a doctor who no longer works at the hospital. Essentially vets are being assigned to primary care doctors who they will never see because the doctor no longer works at the hospital.

“It recommended the hospitals discontinue the practice, which violates a department policy that requires patients to be reassigned to new doctors when their primary care physicians leave. The practice also results in the publication of inaccurate data on doctor-to-patient ratios. But auditors found no evidence that patients were negatively affected because hospitals used other strategies to provide them needed care.” Chicago Tribune

So why do this?

Well, no one really knows although the practice resulted in the publication of inaccurate data on doctor-to-patient ratios.

One would have to know more about how funding is disbursed and if the allocation of funds is driven by numbers and then which numbers; in order to understand the incentive to do so.

Nonetheless, Rep. Dave Loebsack, an Iowa Democrat, said in a statement Friday that anyone involved with creating ghost panels should be punished.

"The use of ghost panels at any Veterans Administration facility to misrepresent the true panel size is disconcerting," he said. "The fact that the VA has created an environment where the use of ghost panels appears to be in use across the nation is unacceptable." Chicago Tribune

Steve Lombardi
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