Health care for veterans in the United States has been under scrutiny in recent years. While the majority of the criticism has focused on long waiting lines and multiple months’ worth of delays in receiving critical care, attention should be brought to the fact that over the past decade, the number of medical malpractice claims filed against the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has skyrocketed.
The Rates of VA Medical Malpractice Claims
An article published by DisabledVeterans.org highlight the gross increase in the amount of money paid out in malpractice claims against the VA in the year 2015. According to the article, payments in 2015 totaled more than $338 million. That’s more than a $240 million increase since 2011, when claims paid by the VA totaled around $98 million.
The fact that so many claims are being settled –often times in order to avoid embarrassing and expensive litigation – is unsettling. The rates of malpractice amongst VA practitioners should be on the decline, not increasing. The issue highlights the need for serious VA reform.
Why VA Medical Malpractice Happens
Malpractice committed by doctors who work for the VA likely occurs for the same reasons that it does elsewhere: overcrowding (in fact, the department cared for 56 percent more veterans in 2014 than it did in 2001, with many new medical cases being more complicated and requiring extensive treatment), lack of communication, and human error. Some of the largest payouts in recent years, according to an article in NY Daily News, were a result of:
- The death of a Vietnam veteran who would not have died but for the failure of his doctor to diagnose colon cancer;
- The death, by suffocation, of a Gulf War tanker whose death was the result of an error during an electric shock therapy session for severe depression; and
- The death of an Army veteran who died from excessive bleeding due to an act of medical malpractice that occurred while the veteran was undergoing gallbladder surgery.
Filing a Medical Malpractice Claim Against the VA
Under the Federal Tort Claims Act, an individual who is harmed by the actions of a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ employee has the right to file a lawsuit. Further, you are also allowed to file a Section 1151 claim with the VA for disability compensation.
If you decide to file a lawsuit, it will be important that you have a legal professional on your side who can represent you; filing these types of claims is not easy, and they require experience, skill, and knowledge of state and federal laws.
Filing a lawsuit can be the best way to recover the compensation that you deserve after medical malpractice leaves you severely injured. While doing so may be no easy task, it may very well be worth it. To learn more about filing a claim against the VA, your rights, the process, and what your claim might be worth, contact your experienced Rockford medical malpractice lawyers at Fisk & Monteleone LTD. To schedule a free case consultation, call 815-209-9030 now.