A group of doctors at US military hospitals has reported being treated “inhumanely” by their US counterparts, with the Department of Veterans Affairs failing to offer them access to necessary medical equipment, the American Medical Association (AMA) announced on Monday.
The AMA, which represents more than 1,500 medical practitioners in the US, said in a statement that it was “deeply concerned” about the situation of US military doctors and that they should be able to access medical equipment at US facilities.
The group said it is seeking redress with the VA, the Department’s Office of Inspector General, the Defense Health Agency and other government agencies.
“This practice of denying access to vital medical equipment is not only against the laws of the United States, but also against the basic ethical principles of medical care,” AMA President Dr. Thomas Fauci said.
“Veterans deserve better and VA officials should immediately address the situation by opening a full and transparent investigation.”
The VA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.AMA has been a vocal critic of the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) and the VA’s failure to fully disclose how many veterans were discharged because of serious medical conditions in recent years.
The statement said the VA has been slow to provide a full accounting of how many medical equipment requests it receives for patients who do not qualify for VA health care, and how much it spends to cover those costs.
“For example, the VHA’s response to the issue of medical equipment was inadequate.
It did not disclose the actual costs of the equipment requests and the number of requests it denied,” the statement said.
The VA has not responded to the AMA’s concerns about the VA.
A spokesman for the VA did note that it “has taken steps to reduce the volume of medical device requests and equipment requests for veterans with medical conditions, including the provision of information about the process for such requests to the public.”VHA also has made significant improvements to the process to process veterans with serious medical illnesses, including reducing the volume and cost of these requests,” the spokesman said.
While VA officials say they are working on ways to address the issue, they have not made any public announcement.
The report comes as President Donald Trump and VA Secretary David Shulkin continue to spar over whether the agency can meet its promises to improve care for veterans.
Shulkin said on Monday that he expects to sign a bill this week that would make it easier for veterans to have the necessary medical devices and to have access to the equipment they need.
He also promised to spend $1 billion on an independent commission that would investigate claims of improper treatment of veterans.