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VA in Pittsburgh, around U.S. paid $200M for 100s of deaths

Too often, the people who perhaps deserve attention and care from doctors and nurses the most do not receive it. Due to patients who died due to medical malpractice, the Department of Veterans Affairs admits, it paid out more than $200 million to victims’ families in the decade after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

In all, nearly 1,000 families made claims related to a negligent death of a patient in the care of a VA facility. Many of these cases took place in Pittsburgh. Readers may recall a 2011 outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease at the Pittsburgh VA hospital that cost the lives of six veterans and sickened at least 21 more.

A report about the VA’s wrongful death cases lists more such incidents in Pittsburgh during the 2000s. One case that closed in 2009 involved failure to diagnose the patient and failure to communicate. That case ended in a $1 million payment. Other cases involved failure to monitor that patient. One of those cases closed with a $400,000 payment; in another, the VA paid $300,000.

Of course, this only refers to incidents of medical malpractice in which the patient died. And the nearly 1,000 cases only represent a small fraction of the actual cases where negligent VA doctors killed patients, observers say. An attorney noted that the VA fights every malpractice accusation, so cases tend to take years to resolve.

Many of those who died due to VA negligence saw action in wars such as Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. None of them deserved to be subjected to substandard care, but they were.

Source: KQED-FM, “VA Pays $200 Million For 1,000 Wrongful Deaths,” Aaron Glantz, April 3, 2014

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