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2 bills seek to change Veterans Affairs medical malpractice suits

The news of the latest string of incidents with the Veterans Affairs medical centers is probably something that almost everyone in Pennsylvania has heard about. What Pennsylvania residents might not realize is that at least one of the facilities being investigated for delayed appointments is in Pennsylvania.

Currently, there are eight cities that have Department of Veterans Affairs facilities. United States Sen. Pat Toomey says that he isn't sure which facility is being looked into, but that he understands that at least one in the state is being investigated.

The investigation comes on the heels of allegations in another state that VA facilities altered records to make it seem like patients were receiving timely medical care. It is alleged that the alterations could have concealed delays that might have led to patient deaths. Some say that the delays are because of increased service needs caused by veterans who are coming back from Afghanistan and Iraq.

There are two bills that could help to hold the VA's employees accountable when records are falsified. One of these bills would allow patients to sue VA employees if they misrepresent, lie about or misreport aspects of the veteran's health status. It would also make it easier for veterans to sue for medical malpractice. Currently, veterans would have to wait at least six months before an administrator can collect attorney fees and court costs after reviewing a successful verdict.

The other would allow top VA officials to fire employees who falsify records. In those cases, the due process could be bypassed. Despite him sponsoring one bill and co-sponsoring the other bill, the senator notes that neither bill will totally rectify the VA's problems.

Anyone who has been the victim of VA medical malpractice has the right to seek compensation for damages resulting from the negligence. Knowing the process for making claims against the VA might make it easier.

Source: The Morning Call, "Pennsylvania Veterans Affairs facility probed over delays" Steve Esack, May. 27, 2014

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