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Delay in care may have caused wrongful death at VA facilities

The Department of Veterans Affairs operates the nation’s largest integrated health care system, serving roughly 9 million veterans from around the country, including many from Pennsylvania. But the system seems to be struggling under its own weight. A former employee of the organization recently came forward to expose massive problems caused by delays in care at one of its hospitals. The retired doctor alleged that delays in treatment may have caused the wrongful death of up to 40 veterans. He also accused the hospital administration of deliberately hiding the problem, alleging that, in order to disguise delays, hospital employees were ordered to keep a secret list of patients on a waiting list for appointments.

Attempting to bring attention to the problem, the doctor first wrote numerous letters to officials at the VA. When that failed to work the doctor enlisted the help of the press and Representative Jeff Miller who heads the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee. Now issues at that specific hospital and others in the system have attracted national attention. President Obama has vowed to get to the bottom of the problem. He appointed his deputy chief of staff to supervise reforms at the organization.  

Calls for the resignation of the organization’s head, himself a retired four-star general, have been increasing. The President, although supporting the VA’s current management, promised to take action if allegations of misconduct were proven. The organization has already admitted to 23 deaths related to their care since 1999, as well as some issues with delays related to referrals.

As the investigation continues, the verdict is out on whether the agency tasked with the health of our military veterans is failing in its call of duty and whether the veterans or their families who experienced the loss of a loved one may be entitled to compensation for the agency’s misconduct or wrongdoing.

Source: Manteca Bulletin, “Claims of VA hospitals misconduct led to deaths,” May 21, 2014

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