Department of Veterans Affairs Faces Lawsuits and More Medical Errors

feature photo

By: AboutLawsuits | Published: August 26th, 2009

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has mistakenly notified hundreds of veterans that they have Lou Gehrig’s disease, in the most recent of a string of VA medical errors that have plagued the agency. The notification error comes as the VA faces potential lawsuits from other veterans who may have been infected with HIV or hepatitis from unsanitary VA medical equipment, and veterans who were victims of medical malpractice at a VA cancer treatment center in Philadelphia.

The VA announced on Tuesday that it accidentally sent letters to a number of veterans that detailed the benefits available to spouses and children of veterans who contracted Lou Gehrig’s disease, which is a fatal condition.

While VA officials said they had only been made aware of 10 veterans who mistakenly received the letters, the National Gulf War Resource Center estimates that at least 1,200 veterans were mistakenly notified, based on the number of panicked veterans from at least a dozen states that contacted the group.

Earlier this year, the agency notified 11,000 veterans that they were exposed to infectious diseases because of poorly cleaned endoscopic equipment at three different clinics. At the beginning of this month, the VA reported that at least eight of those veterans have been diagnosed with HIV, 12 with hepatitis B and 37 with hepatitis C.

At least one veteran who has been diagnosed with HIV, Juan Rivera, has notified the VA that he intends to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the government for failing to follow proper procedures between patients. Other veterans have also retained attorneys who are preparing to present VA malpractice claims, including at least one who contracted hepatitis and about 60 who indicate that they will be filing based on emotional distress.

The VA has promised to fully care for the medical needs of any infected veterans who were part of the colonoscopy scandal. Some veterans are also wondering whether the agency will pay for potentially thousands of dollars in testing undergone by fearful veterans who thought they had Lou Gehrig’s disease. However, VA officials were not clear earlier this week whether veterans would receive compensation for those tests.

Lou Gehrig’s disease, also known as ALS, attacks nerve cells that control voluntary muscles and most victims have a prognosis of five years or less.

The VA also faces potential lawsuits stemming from a cancer unit in Philadelphia that botched nearly 100 colon cancer radiation treatment surgeries. The incidents, still under investigation by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, uncovered a cancer unit that had no supervision from superiors, allegedly altered medical records to cover up mistakes and kept exposing veterans to radioactive materials even after machinery used to measure exposure broke down.

Early this summer, the VA was blasted during congressional hearings by lawmakers who said the VA risked losing the confidence of the many veterans who depend on the agency for health care. At the hearing, VA officials informed lawmakers that more than half of VA facilities failed surprise safety inspections even after exposure of sanitary problems at some facilities erupted into controversy.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

There Are 4 Comments So Far • (Add Your Comments)

  1. I feel sorry for the veterans that this has happened to and hopefully you all get the compensation that you deserve. I hope you guys get extra for pain and suffering. None of you asked for this the thing with the V.A. is, they keep doing things to dig them deeper into a hole until its to big for them selves to dig out of which is ashamed. I have had colonoscopy’s done a lot and they thought i had gotten C-Dif from dirty colonoscopy tools. This is bad not only that they wont rate me on my disability giving me the run arounds for over 2 years. I feel i have an open and shut case but they feel different so i hope you guys get everything that you all deserve plus some you fought for your country done what others would not do and now that its done they treat us like trash and throw us away. I feel its not fair and the V.A. is very bias when it comes to claims, because they do not want to compensate anyone.

  2. As a veteran one of the things I have learned is that lawyers are only interested in rerpresenting a client in medical malpractice suit who has been injured or has died because it is easier to prove damage in order to make money. They are not interested in preventative measures because there is no money to be made. They wait for injury or death to make money
    which I consider a disregard to patient health and safty, along with a disregard to human life. Veterans need to get a copy of their medical records and question staff about incorrect information in their reords which could have consequences later. Veterans should learn to advocate for theirself, because you know more about your medical condition than any lawyer. Veterans should become more active and study patient rights ans responsibilities VA Form 10-88, study the Privacy Act of 1974 on your right to amend records 5 USC 552a. Records maintained on individuals. Veterans should also study VHA Handbook 1605.1 about Privacy And Release of Information concerning your personal records, that protect your rights as a veteran. Veterans should also study 38 CFR 1.579 and 45 CFR 164.526 which protects an individuals presonal rights concerning his records. Veterans must protect veterans learn to advocate for yourself and do not always depend on attorney’s to help you because they only want your money and nothing more.

  3. It is amazing the things the VA gets away with. What is really sad is the fact I thought my VA was the worst then I met people that drive hours to get to the next nearest VA because theirs is so bad. I hate how VA treats like cattle.

  4. I hope and pray that our Congress does the right thing for all veterans. I personally know what delays and denials are all about. I have been in battle with the VA for 42 years. Just received new information which shows altered military medical evidence that I contended existed all along. I was very glad to see that Cushman seemingly has won a victory for all veterans and thank him for his persistence and diligence in his fight. All veterans no matter what keep your chins held high and hope that someone will open the eyes of our nations leaders.

Post Your Comments

  • Have Your Comments Reviewed by a Lawyer

    Provide additional contact information if you want an attorney to review your comments and contact you about a potential case. This information will not be published and will be confidential.
  • NOTE: Providing information for review by an attorney does not form an attorney-client relationship.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.