WASHINGTON (AP) — An audit is finding long wait times around the country for patients seeking their first appointments with doctors at Veterans Affairs hospitals -- whether it's a specialist or a primary care physician.

According to the audit, more than 57,000 veterans have been waiting up to three months for appointments, and an even bigger number of people who enrolled for VA health care have never been seen by a doctor.

The department says an audit of 731 VA hospitals and large outpatient clinics found that the agency's complicated appointment process created confusion among scheduling clerks and supervisors. The audit says a 14-day goal for seeing first-time patients was unattainable given the growing demand among veterans for health care and poor planning. The VA has since abandoned that goal.

The audit released Monday says 13 percent of VA schedulers reported supervisors telling them to falsify appointment dates to make waiting times appear shorter.

Meanwhile, here in Louisiana, audit showed the average wait time for a new patient at Louisiana's three major VA medical centers run anywhere from 30 to 55 days depending on the hospital and type of care needed.

In Alexandria, the average wait is 33 days for a primary care appointment, 55 days for specialty care and 32 days for mental health.

In New Orleans, that average is 52 days for primary, 45 for specialty and 27 for mental health appointments.

In Shreveport, the average is 44 days for primary, 47 for specialty and 31 for mental health appointments.

More than 1,500 new patients seeking appointments at one of the three facilities were unable to get an appointment in 90 days or less.

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