VA slow to repair wheelchairs, OIG finds

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

WASHINGTON – The Office of Inspector General has found that veterans waited an average of 69 days for power wheelchair and scooter repairs, more than a month beyond a 30-day timeliness benchmark set by the agency, according to a new report. “These delays occurred because staff and prosthetic service managers at the respective VA medical facilities did not always effectively manage and monitor repair requests,” the OIG stated in a report. “VA medical facility staff, including prosthetic service staff, did not always promptly input repair requests in the consult management systems so the requests could be properly tracked. Moreover, prosthetic service staff did not effectively monitor the completion of the repairs after the purchase orders for the repairs were issued and the consults were closed.” The OIG reviewed a statistical sample of power wheelchair and scooter repairs at eight VA medical facilities in Veterans Integrated Service Network 7. It identified about 380 veterans in the network who experienced delays in the completion of about 480 of the 1,200 repairs in fiscal year 2016. The OIG recommends that the director of VISN 7 implement controls to ensure medical facility staff initiate repair consults as soon as power wheelchair and scooter repair requests are received. It also recommends that staff follow consult documentation procedures, monitor and follow up on repairs until they are complete, and monitor vendors to ensure they meet agreed-upon delivery dates for repairs. The VISN 7 director concurred with the OIG’s report and recommendations, and provided an action plan to address them.