The number of wrongful death lawsuits being filed against VA clinics is astounding and the number continues to climb. In 2014, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs paid out nearly $200 to 1,000 families in wrongful death cases, according to a Freedom of Information Act request obtained by The Center for Investigative Reporting. Unfortunately, many veterans who rely on VA clinics to offer the care they’ve been promised by government officials for serving the country receive insufficient or improper care when seeking treatment at these facilities. Either the care is not administered in a timely manner or is incorrectly administered. A recent investigation from the Cox Media Group supported this, finding that an overwhelming number of these cases specifically appear to be related to delays in treatment. The company discovered that nationwide, there were nearly 1,200 instances where the VA paid out medical malpractice claims.
Such was the case with Aaron M. Merritt, an Army veteran who had served three tours of duty in the Middle East. The 26-year-old sought care for ulcerative colitis at the Nashville VA Medical Center and was negligently treated, leading to his death. His mother filed suit in December. Just last month, a Michigan federal judge signed off on a $175,000 deal settling another medical malpractice suit which claimed government optometrists at the Battle Creek VA hospital missed that a patient was bleeding from his brain, causing the 65 year old’s death. In yet another case, this one in Seattle, Timothy Kuncl underwent three surgeries at the Seattle VA Medical Center to save his leg, installing or removing metal plates and screws, which only intensified his pain. Eventually, he was forced to remove it altogether, seeking the help of a private surgeon and becoming an amputee. An investigation ensued, which confirmed Kuncl’s fears. The surgeons at the VA clinic had inserted an othopedic screw into his ankle, causing further damage and exacerbating his injuries. Armed with these troublesome findings, Kuncl filed suit. Each time, the patients had sought treatment right away, but medical personnel failed to accurately diagnose and treat underlying symptoms, or had pursued improper treatment. The number of cases in which this happens only continues to climb.
Another case is now underway for mistreatment at the Asheville VA Medical Center. Jason Powell, an army veteran, went to the Asheville VA Medical Center on September 4, 2012, with what he believed to be a bad case of the flu. He passed away unexpectedly two days later. Powell’s wife, Jennifer, discovered there had been an error in the medication the hospital administered during his stay. A doctor at the center spoke with Jennifer just a few hours after her husband’s death. He pulled her aside and said there had been a mistake, saying he had to tell her for ethical and moral reasons. The medication was wrongfully administered twice during Powell’s stay. Jennifer now believes that had Jason been given the proper medication, he may still be alive. She has filed a wrongful death lawsuit. The hospital claims the solider would have passed anyway. A WBTV investigation is underway into this matter and others nationwide, as the total continues to climb.