VA hospital spent $300K on robots it couldn't use

A Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Wisconsin spent nearly half a million dollars on equipment it couldn’t use, including two robots purchased to move supplies throughout the facility.

Staffers at the VA Medical Center in Madison, Wisconsin, purchased two robots for about $313,000 in September 2012 without determining whether they could move effectively through the hospital’s hallways, according to a Friday report released by the agency’s inspector general substantiating allegations of wasted funds at the medical center. The robots were not used for two years.

The watchdog found that the hospital wasted about $410,000 on the robots and a laser lead extractor, which was leased by the facility’s cardiology department for nearly $100,000 and not used for two and a half years.

The audit provides the latest evidence of wasted funds at the federally run network of hospitals, which has been faulted for spending billions each year on contracts for goods and services without sufficient oversight.

The Madison VA hospital bought the robots four years ago to help distribute supplies throughout the facility and free up time for employees to focus on other priorities, according to the inspector general. However, the logistics department did not assess whether the robots would be able to navigate the hospital’s crowded hallways before purchasing them.

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