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Capitol Health Call
June 13, 2012

VA Mental Health

JAMA. 2012;307(22):2362. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.5576

A significant percentage of veterans seeking mental health services are not being seen in a timely manner, concluded the Department of Veterans Affairs' Office of Inspector General (OIG).

The OIG statement, presented on April 25 during a Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing, noted that Veterans Health Administration (VHA) policy requires that all first-time patients referred to or requesting mental health services receive an initial evaluation within 24 hours and a more comprehensive mental health diagnostic and treatment planning evaluation within 14 days. The OIG found that for fiscal year 2011, the VHA completed approximately 168 000 (64%) new patient appointments for treatment within 14 days of the desired date with about 94 000 appointments exceeding 14 days. The VHA said the delays happened because their schedules were too full.

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