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Our Veterans Have Lung Cancer and the VA Is Failing Them

Our Veterans Have Lung Cancer and the VA Is Failing ThemA recent lawsuit filed by our firm in South Carolina for a military veteran highlights the importance of the standard of care when it comes to medicine and medical malpractice. Standard of care is the generally accepted medical practice that a physician would provide for a patient with a similar medical condition. One example of an accepted standard of care would be screening for lung cancer in a patient who has smoked for years and is not getting regular CT scans, and failure to do so could be considered medical negligence.

McGowan, Hood, Felder & Phillips has filed a lawsuit against the United States Government and a Veterans Administration Health Care Entity on behalf of our client and her late husband. We have alleged in the complaint that her late husband’s physicians failed to screen him properly for lung cancer and it contributed to his death.

Per court documents:

99. Mr. Ecklund was not screened annually for lung cancer.

100. Earlier screening in Mr. Ecklund, who was at high risk for developing lung cancer, would have resulted in much earlier detection and a better outcome.

101. Additionally, once Mr. Ecklund showed signs and symptoms of lung cancer, the VAMC unreasonably and negligently delayed ordering and conducting tests to confirm Mr. Ecklund’s cancer diagnosis and initiating treatment.

102. Mr. Ecklund had abnormal chest imaging on September 23, 2020.

103. No one from the VAMC acted in response to the radiology report, which noted, “SIGNIFICANT ABNORMALITY, ATTN NEEDED” until Mr. and Mrs. Ecklund called to follow up on the results.

108. The injuries to Plaintiff and the suffering and death of Mr. Ecklund were the direct and proximate result of and were caused and occasioned by the negligence, carelessness, recklessness, willfulness, and wantonness on the part of the United States and its agents, employees, and servants in failing to possess and exercise that degree of medical training, competency, and skill ordinarily and customarily possessed and exercised by medical professionals in similar circumstances.

In this particular case, the standard of care requires that yearly CT scans be performed on individuals over 50 with a particular “pack year” age, which is the number of cigarettes smoked per day multiplied by the number of years smoked. The VA is required to provide this standard of care to veterans who rely on the VA as their primary care physician. Failure to provide the standard of care could be considered medical malpractice.

The primary care physicians at the VA in South Carolina allegedly did not provide this care to Mr. Ecklund, which resulted in his pain, suffering, and eventual death. The VA must provide quality medical care to veterans, and this alleged failure is considered medical negligence. The issue is compounded by the fact that the VA has a history of malfeasance and a lack of accountability when it comes to medical errors.

In the mid-2000s, the VA in South Carolina was found to be negligent in screening for colonoscopies, which resulted in over 50 people developing cancer. The Office of Inspector General (OIG) investigated and found they were using less effective tests as well. This is an alarming revelation that indicates the VA’s lack of accountability when it comes to medical malpractice.

The same thing could be happening with CT scans and smokers over age fifty. The VA may not be providing the standard of care required for these individuals, which could result in serious harm or death. The VA’s lack of accountability and history of negligence could result in a significant number of veterans not receiving the medical care they require, resulting in preventable deaths.

I’m a South Carolina veteran diagnosed with lung cancer. What are my options?

Veterans who have been harmed or died due to the VA’s failure to provide the standard of care may have legal options available to them. Medical malpractice cases involve a complex legal process, and it is crucial to consult with an experienced South Carolina attorney who has a background in handling VA medical malpractice cases.

To pursue a medical malpractice case against the VA, you must meet several legal requirements must be met, including:

  • Proving that a doctor-patient relationship existed
  • The doctor failed to provide the required standard of care
  • The failure to provide the standard of care resulted in harm or death to the patient

Proving these elements can be difficult, and requires a thorough investigation of the medical records and other evidence. It is also important to note that there are certain legal protections in place for the VA, which can make it more challenging to pursue a medical malpractice case.

Despite these challenges, it is important to hold the VA accountable for its failure to provide the required standard of care to veterans. Medical malpractice cases can provide compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages resulting from the negligence of medical professionals.

In addition to pursuing legal action, it is important to advocate for systemic changes within the VA healthcare system. This could include implementing a system of transparency and accountability, regular audits of VA medical facilities, and the implementation of strict penalties for those who fail to provide the required standard of care.

There are also other avenues available for addressing the issue of medical malpractice within the VA healthcare system. Veterans and their families can report medical errors and issues to the VA Patient Advocacy Program, which provides support and assistance to veterans who have experienced harm due to medical malpractice or other issues. VA patients also have the following rights, outlined here.

In the meantime, if you believe you or a loved one developed lung cancer as a result of the VA failing to perform their due diligence, you may be eligible for compensation. If you were a patient at:

Columbia VA Health Care System 6439 Garners Ferry Road

Columbia, SC 29209-1639

Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center 109 Bee Street

Charleston, SC 29401-5799



VA Community Resource and Referral Center 2424 City Hall Lane

North Charleston, SC 29405

Aiken Community Based Outpatient Clinic 951 Millbrook Avenue

Aiken, SC 29803

Anderson Clinic 3030 North Highway 81

Anderson, SC 29621

Beaufort Clinic 1 Pinckney Blvd

Beaufort, SC 29902

Florence CBOC 1822 Sally Hill Farms Road

Florence, SC 29501

Goose Creek CBOC 2418 NNPTC Circle

Goose Creek, SC 29445



Greenville Clinic 41 Park Creek Drive

Greenville, SC 29605

Myrtle Beach CBOC 1800 Airpark Drive

Myrtle Beach, SC 29577

North Charleston VA CBOC 6450 Rivers Ave.

North Charleston, SC 29406

Orangeburg Clinic 151 Magnolia Village Parkway

Orangeburg, SC 29118

Rock Hill Clinic 2670 Mills Park Drive

Rock Hill, SC 29732

Spartanburg CBOC 279 North Grove Medical Park Drive

Spartanburg, SC 29303

Sumter Clinic 407 North Salem Avenue

Sumter, SC 29150

Charleston, SC Vet Center 3625 West Montague Avenue

North Charleston, SC 29418

Columbia, SC Vet Center 1710 Richland Street, Suite A

Columbia, SC 29201

Greenville, SC Vet Center 3 Caledon Court, Suite B

Greenville, SC 29615

Myrtle Beach Vet Center 1101 Johnson Ave, Suite 201

Myrtle Beach, SC 29577


…talk to the VA medical malpractice lawyers at McGowan, Hood, Felder & Phillips, LLC in South Carolina today – we want to hear your story. To schedule a no-cost case review with an experienced member of our team, call our offices or fill out our contact form today.