AUGUSTA — Maine’s Veterans Affairs health care system mishandled referrals for mental health services and failed to properly document all requests for that care, leaving some patients without needed services, according to a federal investigation released Wednesday.

The VA Maine Healthcare System’s management of mental health services “made it difficult to track whether patients’ requests for services were met” and “some patients had unmet needs,” the Office of Inspector General’s report states.

The system includes the Togus VA hospital in Augusta, as well as outpatient clinics throughout the state.

U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, who was briefed Wednesday morning by the VA officials who conducted the investigation, said she was “deeply disappointed” with some of the findings.

“Timely mental health care is critical for veterans and their families and they should not be made to wait for it — or even worse, get lost in the system,” she said in a statement. “But this report shows that is exactly what is happening. The inspector general found that because Togus isn’t following the rules, we don’t know how long the wait is for some patients.”

The report also made clear “staffing levels are inadequate, morale is low and the systems that are in place for tracking veterans with mental health needs weren’t always followed,” Pingree said.

Togus employees contacted Pingree last year to raise concerns about practices in the mental health department, according to the statement. Former U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, ranking member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs at the time, requested the investigation.

Ryan Lilly, director of the VA Maine Healthcare System, said the findings reflect only a fraction of overall referrals, and the organization is committed to following the report’s recommendations for improvement.

“We are pleased that the OIG review did not substantiate the majority of the allegations, including the allegations that staff were directed to inappropriately close consults or manipulate wait time data,” he said in a statement. “This confirmed our previous sentiments that staff were never instructed to act inappropriately and that any mistakes that may have been made were generally a byproduct of either an outdated scheduling system or a lack of understanding around the complex and frequently changing administrative rules for handling consults and other referrals.”