VA Pays Out $200 Million for Nearly 1,000 Veterans’ Wrongful Deaths

In a ten-year period, the Department of Veterans Affairs has had to pay a huge amount of money to the families of veterans who died as a result of medical malpractice by VA hospitals or doctors.

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This shocking information was detailed in an online article. Here are excerpts:

In the decade after 9/11, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs paid $200 million to nearly 1,000 families in wrongful death cases. The data is presented as obtained by The Center for Investigative Reporting using the Freedom of Information Act.

In that time, CIR found the agency made wrongful death payments to nearly 1,000 grieving families, ranging from decorated Iraq War veterans who shot or hanged themselves after being turned away from mental health treatment, to Vietnam veterans whose cancerous tumors were identified but allowed to grow, to missed diagnoses, botched surgeries and fatal neglect of elderly veterans.

In a written response to questions, agency spokeswoman Victoria Dillon said that while “any adverse incident for a veteran within our care is one too many,” the wrongful deaths identified by CIR represented a small fraction of the more than 6 million veterans who seek care from the agency every year.

“It’s not enough for VA to simply compensate the families of those who died,” said Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. “In order to provide real closure for those struck by these heartbreaking preventable deaths, VA needs to hold fully accountable the employees who allowed patients to slip through the cracks.”

Independent legal analysts say the nearly 1,000 wrongful death payments in the decade after 9/11 represent a small percentage of the veterans who have died because of malpractice by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Unlike the private sector, where survivors can file cases in state and federal court and often win large punitive damages, families of patients who die under VA care must exhaust a monthslong administrative review process before filing a lawsuit. Even if they succeed, families can win only actual and not punitive damages from the federal government.

As a result, lawyers are reluctant to take cases, and many families never file – or see a dime.

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