In 2011, the Department of Veterans Affairs paid out $98 million for medical malpractice claims. Just four years later in 2015, that number rose to a truly staggering $338 million. The VA downplayed the number, but the abysmal care that veterans receive at the hands of the mismanaged agency coupled with the massive spike in payments tell a different story.
There is no doubt that the VA is harming our veterans. The agency is treating more veterans than ever (an increase of 56% in the last decade) in aging and understaffed facilities. With more than 6.6 million veterans to care for, a concurrent rise in errors would be understandable, but the severity of the medical mistakes and the lack of appropriate disciplinary action are exacerbating a devastating problem. These are just a few of the agencies life-altering mistakes:
- Army mechanic Shane Ream had his gallbladder removed in 2010 at a Cleveland VA medical center. The nurse who checked his blood pressure four times post-operatively failed to report the low numbers to the surgeon or another doctor. The father of one died from post-operative internal bleeding.
- Gulf War veteran Brian Campeau finally decided to undergo electro-convulsive therapy to alleviate his worsening depression. His first treatment put him into respiratory distress. After 16 hours, a resident and a respiratory therapist tried and failed to insert a breathing tube 11 times, leaving Campeau oxygen deprived for 63 minutes. His mother and his wife were by his side when he died three days later.
- Vietnam veteran William Halverson was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2011 after he switched doctors. His previous doctor had failed to inform him that three tests over three years indicated that he needed a full colonoscopy. The cancer had spread to his lymph nodes by the time he underwent the procedure; Halverson died two years later after a long and very much avoidable illness.
As for the massive spike in payments, the New York Daily News quoted Rep. Jeff Miller, a Florida Republican and chairman of the House Veterans Committee, as saying “The failures and lapses in care that led to these judgments are not the result of a lack of money or resources. Rather they stem from VA’s long and well documented history of refusing to seriously hold accountable those who can’t or won’t do their jobs.”
The number of medical malpractice cases filed against the VA in recent years has skyrocketed, and not because our veterans have suddenly become more litigious. The agency is systematically mismanaging resources and mistreating our veterans while working diligently to hide these problems from the spotlight. No more.
If you or your loved one is a veteran who has suffered mistreatment at the hands of a trusted medical professional, the experienced South Carolina VA malpractice attorneys at McGowan, Hood, Felder & Phillips LLC can help get you the justice you deserve. Call 803-327-7800 or contact us today for a free consultation.
Randy is the former President of the South Carolina Association for Justice. He has been certified by the American Board of Professional Liability as a specialist in Medical Malpractice Law which is recognized by the South Carolina Bar. Randy has also been awarded the distinction of being a “Super Lawyer” 10 times in the last decade. He has over 25 years of experience helping injured people fight back against corporations, hospitals and wrong-doers.
Read more about S. Randall Hood