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Health & Medicine

Lawsuit Filed Against a Wisconsin Veterans Affairs Facility

— September 2, 2016

A lawsuit filed against a Wisconsin Veterans Affairs facility is alleging medical malpractice and wrongful death. The wife and the daughter of Jason Simcakoski filed the lawsuit in Madison, Wisconsin, on August 29th, 2016. It is not clear at this time what damages his family are seeking.

Simcakoski was 35 years old in 2014 when he died at the Veterans Affairs, VA, facility located in Tomah. According to the Associated Press, the lawsuit alleges that the VA caregivers administered improperly prescribed drugs to him and failed to provide emergency care when he was found unresponsive. The lawsuit also alleges that his substance abuse and mental health issues were not properly diagnosed.

The facts of the case, as alleged in the lawsuit, include the prescription of approximately 14 drugs.  According to the Washington Examiner, one of those drugs was Suboxone, a drug that is designed to be used for narcotic addiction. It was prescribed to Simcakoski to relieve chronic pain and decrease his anxiety. That drug was given in combination with a cocktail of other drugs and, the lawsuit alleges, he was given too high of a dosage.

Image courtesy of Supertheman,
Image courtesy of Supertheman,

On August 30th, Simcakoski’s family members visited him and were concerned that he seemed to be extremely sedated and could barely talk. At 2:40 p.m. that day, he was found unresponsive by a nursing staff member. Life saving measures, including CPR, was not started until ten minutes after he was found.

In 2015, the VA inspector general determined that Simcakoski’s death was caused by deficiencies in his care at the VA facility. As a result, one physician was terminated. The inspector general chose not to release that report. The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee conducted an investigation after Simcakowski’s death and found that the inspector general had discounted key evidence and testimony by witnesses. The investigation also revealed that two physicians were prescribing a very large amount of narcotics to the veterans at Tomah. It also revealed that the chief of staff, David Houlihan, was nicknamed “Candy Man” by veterans who sought treatment at the facility because he gave them so many pills.

The VA has a history of providing substandard care to our veterans. The entire system needs to be revamped to ensure that the medical care that the U.S. provides to the people who served our country is, at a minimum, adequate. The lackadaisical, uncaring approach employees of VA hospitals seem to take is entirely unacceptable. Our veterans are dying because of it! Hopefully, the Senate investigation will result in widespread changes.


Associated Press

Washington Examiner

Suboxone Drug Information

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