The U.S. government has reportedly settled a VA hospital malpractice lawsuit with the wife of a veteran who died from a blood infection following a biopsy at an Illinois Veterans Affairs facility, where all major surgeries were stopped two years ago after a string of medical mistakes were discovered.
Although details of the settlement have not yet been made public, the Associated Press reports that a resolution was reached in a $10 million lawsuit filed by Darla Marshall, of Kentucky, over the death of her husband, James Marshall. In July 2007, James Marshall died from a blood infection six days after a lymph node biopsy at a VA hospital in Marion, Illinois.
The wrongful death lawsuit alleged that Marshall’s death was caused by negligent medical treatment provided by Jose Veizaga-Mendez, who has been linked to a number of medical malpractice claims.
The VA began investigating problems at the Illinois medical center in 2007, after a rash of surgery deaths occurred between October 2006 and March 2007. More than 30 cases at the facility were reviewed by the VA and at least nine deaths were linked to substandard care. Management at the hospital has been referred to as “dysfunctional and inefficient.”
All surgeries at the VA hospital were halted nearly two years ago. Although minor surgical procedures are again under way at the center, there is no estimation for when, or if, doctors there will be allowed to perform major surgeries.
Last year, another VA wrongful death lawsuit filed over a surgery mistake at the Illinois hospital was settled by the government for $975,000. Katrina Shank, also of Kentucky, settled her malpractice lawsuit for the 2007 death of her husband, Robert Shank III, who bled to death after gallbladder surgery. Shank was also operated on by Veizaga-Mendez, who resigned three days after his death.
The Department of Veteran Affairs has also faced substantial criticism over the quality of medical treatment provided at other medical clinics in multiple states. Investigators from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission reported last month that a cancer unit at the Philadelphia VA Medical Center mishandled nearly 100 cases involving radiation treatment and suggested that staff involved had altered records to cover mistakes. The VA is also still dealing with the fallout from colonoscopy problems at VA centers in Tennessee, Georgia and Florida, where contaminated equipment exposed thousands of veterans to hepatitis, HIV and other blood borne diseases. Lawmakers blasted the VA in a hearing last month for the repeated lapses in veteran care.
Veizaga-Mendez, who was not named in either of the VA hospital malpractice lawsuits, had his license to practice medicine suspended indefinitely. The complaints alleged that the VA failed to properly investigated Veizaga-Mendez’s medical record.
Before working at the Illinois VA Hospital, Veuzaga-Mendez was investigated for alleged malpractice in seven Massachusetts cases in 2004 and 2005, two of which resulted in death.