The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has been the subject of much scrutiny over the past year. The Department was found to be falsifying records with regard to treatment on a large scale, and the deaths of a number of patients at a VA facility in Phoenix, Arizona, further called into question the VA’s ability to treat patients in a timely fashion. Unfortunately, a recently resolved medical malpractice lawsuit in Washington state finds the VA again the subject of questionable treatment practices.
The case involves a veteran who had undergone a liver transplant and was taking medication after surgery. This medication left him more vulnerable than the average person would have been to contracting cancer. He was diagnosed with melanoma in May 2011. Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer.
The man needed surgery after the diagnosis. The surgery was to take place at the University of Washington. A scheduler at the VA Puget Sound had the job of arranging for this surgery in a timely fashion. Unfortunately, she failed to do so for three months, which ultimately prompted the man to schedule his own surgery. Unfortunately, the cancer had spread throughout the man’s body during this three month delay. He died in November 2012.
The plaintiffs in the case argued that the VA Puget Sound was negligent in failing to schedule the surgery for three months, which allowed the cancer to spread. The government settled the case last month and agreed to pay $900,000.
This is not the first time the VA Puget Sound has been the subject of a wrongful death claim. "The U.S. government paid $5.9 million for wrongful death claims between 2001 and 2011 involving the VA Puget Sound. Since then until early 2014, an additional $1.3 million was paid to resolve three wrongful death claims involving the VA Puget Sound," according to medicalmalpracticelawyers.com.