Malpractice Payouts to U.S. Veterans Reach 12-Year High
By Kathleen Miller
September 09, 2013
Christopher Ellison went to a veterans medical center in Philadelphia to get eight teeth extracted in 2007. What should have been a routine dentist visit left him permanently incapacitated.
The $17.5 million Ellison and his family received in a malpractice judgment against the Department of Veterans Affairs was the largest against the agency in a dozen years -- and one of more than 400 payments the U.S. government made last year to resolve VA malpractice claims, according to agency records obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. The total cost came to $91.7 million, also the highest sum in at least 12 years.
The cases against the VA have included missed diagnoses, delayed treatment and procedures performed on wrong body parts. U.S. lawmakers and veterans’ advocates say they reflect deep flaws in the agency’s health-care system even as the department tends to more former troops, including those who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan.
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