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Veterans Administration facing increase in lawsuits

Massachusetts readers might be surprised to learn that the Department of Veterans Affairs paid out $91.7 million in malpractice claims last year. In all, there were more than 400 payments made; the total sum was reportedly the highest paid in 12 years.

Veterans' advocates and U.S. lawmakers say that the rising number of malpractice suits reflects systemic problems with the VA's health care system. The lawsuits have included surgical errors, delayed treatment, missed diagnoses and procedures performed on the wrong body parts. The chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs believes that greater accountability is needed within the VA.

In Pittsburgh, a Legionnaires' disease outbreak at a VA hospital took the lives of five veterans, which has led to malpractice claims. The committee has scheduled a hearing there to investigate lapses in care. These issues come at a time when the VA is caring for more former troops: In the next four years, up to 1.2 million additional soldiers will become veterans. There are soldiers returning from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq who are living with injuries that would have been fatal in earlier wars and will require complex and sophisticated care. Others will be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

When someone is the victim of medical malpractice, like wrong-site surgery or misdiagnosis, he or she may be facing lifelong consequences such as pain, nerve damage or emotional distress. A skilled Massachusetts personal injury attorney may be instrumental in helping a medical malpractice victim recover compensation for their damages. The attorney might negotiate with health care providers and their insurance companies for a substantial sum. In some situations, an attorney might suggest taking the case to civil court. A jury might decide in favor of the plaintiff and award compensation.

Source: Insurance Journal, "Veterans’ Medical Malpractice Costs Rising As More Soldiers Seek Care", Kathleen Miller, September 13, 2013

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