The Veterans Administration has been plagued with complaints about long waits, lack of access to mental health care, and even manipulating records to show shorter wait times. However, the VA has also seen a stark increase in the number of cases of medical malpractice that have settled out of court.
According to an article in the New York Daily News, the number of legal settlements made by the VA has more than tripled from 2011 to 2015. Many of those settlements involved claims of medical malpractice against the VA, doctors, and medical staff. In 2011, the total in settlement payouts was about $98 million. In 2015, that number jumped to about $338 million. The total for the last 5 years has come to almost $850 million.
Citing documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, examples of alleged malpractice cases include a U.S. Army veteran who died of internal bleeding from complications after he went in for routine gallbladder surgery.
Another veteran in St. Petersburg, Florida died of colon cancer, after VA doctors ignored red flags on his annual medical exams for three years in a row. William Halverson returned for his regular medical checkup every year. Each time, his blood test came back positive; however, Halverson was never told. By the time Halverson switched to another doctor who immediately ordered a full colonoscopy, it was too late.
Another article in the Washington Times reports the VA is still plagued by a number of systemic problems years after the scandal over phony wait lists first came to light. According to John Cooper, a spokesperson for Concerned American Veterans for America, “the VA is still struggling with a lack of accountability, an inability to properly manage a budget rapidly approaching $200 billion, and a failure to provide veterans with timely access to care and benefits.”
In another alleged malpractice case, Brian Campeau, 40-years-old, had come back from the Gulf War with serious depression. He had heard from several veteran friends of their success with electro-convulsive therapy. During treatment, he immediately began to struggle to breathe, and after 16 hours of distress, a resident and respiratory therapist tried multiple times to insert a breathing tube. Campeau was without sufficient oxygen for over an hour before a breathing tube was finally inserted. He died three days later.
According to DisabledVeterans.org, “There is no question as to why VA continues to lag behind private sector care options. Individual employees are not held accountable for wrongdoing and American taxpayers foot the bill whenever VA is taken to task.”
If you or a loved one has been injured as the result of a medical mistake, or you are unsure whether medical negligence may be involved, Gilman & Bedigian team is ready to help. We are fully equipped to handle the complex process of filing a medical malpractice claim. Our staff, including a physician and attorneys with decades of medical malpractice litigation experience, will focus on getting you compensated, so you can focus on healing and moving forward.