A recent USA Today report from Florida substantiates the newspaper’s previous claims of complaints against Veterans Affairs’ medical facilities. The article provides specific examples of dysfunction and treatment errors, including missed diagnoses and never events during surgery, in the care of armed services veterans.
USA Today published the findings from nearly 140 investigative reports dating to 2005 about VA facilities nationwide. Those reports were released in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.
Fifty-nine reports involved substantiated allegations and 51 involving unsubstantiated ones, the newspaper said. Six cases were closed because of a pending lawsuit by the family. The remaining 21 either weren’t investigated for various reasons or the outcome is unknown because of redactions. Thirteen reports involving VA facilities in Florida.
The allegations reported in the paper include:
- A veteran’s face was set on fire during a surgical procedure in Lebanon, Pennsylvania.
- A VA doctor in Tampa prescribed drugs at an alarmingly high rate, despite being told by colleagues to stop.
- VA mental health workers at a facility in The Villages, Fla., didn’t regularly check patients’ vital signs.
- A veteran dependent on a ventilator was treated by staff member who was considered “not competent” to deal with such patients. The patient was found disconnected from the ventilator and in cardiac arrest, but was revived.
- A nurse at one VA facility allegedly abused an elderly veteran by feeding him a doughnut covered in hot sauce.
Almost all of the investigations in the newly released reports were generated by tips from VA employees, veteran patients, their family members or the public, the newspaper said.
The reports aren’t directly related to the scandal over lengthy wait times at VA facilities. But one of the newly released reports found that underutilization of staff time at the VA medical facility in Gainesville, Fla., contributed to appointment scheduling delays there.
The reports in fact indicate a deeper problem within the VA that goes beyond long wait times for appointments and delayed diagnoses. They include indications of medical malpractice harming vets who are being treated as well as abuse and neglect of residential VA patients akin to nursing home abuse.
If you are a veteran in Pennsylvania or a family member of a vet who has suffered an unexpected medical decline or shows signs of abuse or neglect after being cared for in a VA facility, you should talk to our Philadelphia medical malpractice lawyers. We can help put an end to mistreatment and help you recover compensation for your pain, suffering and other losses.
Source: Florida Today, “Newly released reports chronicle harm to veterans,” Donovan Slack and Ledyard King, May 6, 2015