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Audit: Fayetteville VA Didn't Follow Up On Suicide Risks

An audit of the Veterans Affairs office in Fayetteville says employees have not conducted proper follow-up procedures for veterans at a high risk of suicide.  Federal policy calls for offices to get in touch with high-risk patients for a month after they visit the VA hospital.  The audit says the Fayetteville office followed up with patients for two weeks in nine out of ten cases.  Fayetteville VA executive director Elizabeth Goolsby says the office has a large case load of high-risk patients.

"We regret that is the circumstance that they found," Goolsby says.

"And it has certainly made us aware that we need to make sure that we have additional methods in place to double check to make sure all patients are followed up with in a timely manner."

Audits show similar problems at other VA offices across the country.  Goolsby says the audit takes a sample of patients and does not accurately reflect her employees' efforts.  She says the office now complies with federal policies.  The Fayetteville VA has reported seven suicides over the past five years.  None of those involved veterans on the list of high-risk patients.

Will Michaels is WUNC's Weekend Host and Reporter.
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