A medical malpractice suit against Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center has settled for nearly $1 million. Michael Holmes, an army veteran, brought the action in December stemming from a surgery he had at the hospital which led to a stroke. Strangely, the surgery he underwent was not even necessary. Holmes does not know if he will regain usage of his arm at this point. The facility performed a surgery that was supposed to last for one-hour to clear a blocked carotid artery. The artery was later determined not to be the blocked and the surgery ending up taking five hours. Holmes next suffered a stroke and remained at the hospital for two months. He estimates that he has about 10% usage of his arm.
Holmes has felt unstable when walking and feels there is hesitation when he speaks, indicating some underlying damage. One week before the operation the VA told Holmes to discontinue his daily aspirin regimen which prevents blockages. The VA has since changed their procedures when veterans undergo the same surgery that Holmes did, regarding the discontinuation of aspirin and anti-platelet medicine. Holmes anticipates the settlement should cover him and his wife for the remainder of their lives.
The modern Veterans Health Administration (VHA) began during the Civil War as a federal hospital geared for the U.S. volunteer services. This Richmond, VA McGuire facility was established in 1946. Ordinarily, governmental entities are shielded from lawsuits based on the doctrine on sovereign immunity. There is an exemption to the doctrine allowing veteran patients to bring suit against the VA in actions of medical malpractice in accordance with the provisions of The Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA).
The FTCA was enacted in 1946 requiring uniformity in filing a claim to pursue monetary damages for property loss or damage, injury, or death resulting from a wrongful acts or error of governmental staff operating in their employment. The statute of limitations is two years and may begin at the time the plaintiff knew (or should have) of the issue. The general procedures for filing should include the amount of the claim and include the following evidence:
- Claims for injury: Documentation in writing composed by a physician indicating the nature and scope of the injury, any permanent disabilities, period hospitalized or incapacitated, and long-term prognosis. In addition, a detailed summary of cost statement associated with medical costs and funeral costs incurred should be provided.
- Claims for economically repairable property damage: Submission of two detailed estimates which are signed by parties deemed as reliable.
- Claims for lost or destroyed property: A statement indicating the original property costs, date(s) of procurement, and any information relative to the value of the property prior to or following the accident.
For property claims, those providing the estimates should be impartial parties with competence and familiarity with the type(s) of property.