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Veterans left without primary doctors

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Thousands of veterans are affected by a lack of VA doctors in Iowa and South Dakota.

An investigation released by the VA's Inspector General revealed more than 2,000 veterans in Iowa and South Dakota were assigned to doctors that were falsely listed in the system.

More than 1,000 Iowa City veteran patients were left bouncing from doctor to doctor for months when their assigned physicians left the hospital.

The system failing to get them new doctors.

It's a practice know as ghost panels, veterans assigned to a primary care physician's patient lists, but the doctor is no longer working at that hospital.

The ghost panels were found during an investigation between December 2015 and February 2016.

The investigation revealed 2 doctors at Iowa City's VA Hospital who left but were still assigned patients.  One doctor had been gone for nearly 5 months. 

Issues affecting not only the 1,200 ghost patients, but the veterans whose doctors are picking up the slack and dividing their time among too many patients.

A practice Iowa Congressman Loebsack says must stop.

"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. . . .A leadership must be held accountable for their actions," said Loebsack in a statement released on Friday.

 The ghost panels were blamed on several different failures between systems and administrators.

 The hospitals are now required to submit monthly and quarterly staffing and pay roll reports to hopefully prevent future ghosting problems.

 The Veteran Affairs' Inspector General giving the Iowa City and South Dakota hospital until the end of the month to fix the issue.

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