Sen. Murray: VA system needs change now, not another report

SEATTLE -- While Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., did not call for Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to step down, she said the change was necessary for the VA to move forward and make system-wide changes to improve timely medical care for vets.

“I can tell you from being right here in Washington state, we have had problems here,” Murray said Friday. “I spend a lot of time advocating for veterans who call me and say, ‘I was told I’d get in in two weeks and it’s been two months or six months.”

Family members of late veteran Cliff Douglas were the first to file a lawsuit. His family blames delays in treatment they believe cost him his life.

“What tied Cliff up, and what ultimately caused his death, is a referral never happened,” his sister, Connie Olberg, said.

The Inspector General is currently running an audit of all VA facilities, including those in Washington state.

While the VA Puget Sound told Q13 FOX News there is “no evidence of secret patient waiting lists or inappropriate record keeping”, a review in 2012 showed the Seattle hospital has had problems with getting colorectal patients care in a timely manner.

For example, the IG’s 2012 report found half of patients reviewed who had biopsies weren’t given test results within the required two-week time period.

Mike Schindler, with Operation Military Family, worries the problems could extend to the east side of the mountains.

“There’s talk that some folks who worked (at the VA) in Spokane ended up in Arizona. Did their influence in Arizona get transferred from Spokane?” asked Schindler.

The IG’s Office found at least 40 patients in Phoenix may have died as a result of delayed medical care.

Murray said she wants action now.

“We can’t just wait around for another investigation. This is a known problem. It has been known for a long time, there are changes and things we need to be doing right now within the VA system and not just waiting for another investigation report,”  Murray said.

Watch our story on Q13 FOX News at 5 p.m.