After months of vehement denials, Veterans' Administration officials are now admitting that long waits at VA facilities did contribute to deaths of veterans. While the Acting Inspector General would not say that the delayed assistance caused the deaths, he did admit that it contributed to the fatal consequences.
For the last several months, the health care scandal surrounding Veterans’ Administration hospitals has captured news headlines. Everything from delayed care to misreported statistics, to deaths has been reported as shortcomings of an overburdened system. But another aspect of the crisis has apparently been underreported.
In South Carolina as well as elsewhere in the United States, if a hospital patient is injured as a result of a negligent action or failure to act on the part of a doctor then a claim for medical malpractice may ensue.
Medical malpractice claims are based in the concept of negligence, and under many circumstances lawsuits that allege negligence are not based on statutory law passed by the legislature.
Recent news reports indicate that the Veterans Administration waged a campaign of retaliation against employees who sought to expose allegations of medical malpractice in VA hospitals. Some of the “whistleblowers” who fought back anonymously against the intimidation include VA doctors in South Carolina.
In a recent blog post, we wrote about the federal probe into the mismanagement and hospital negligence in Veterans Administration hospitals across the country, including in South Carolina. Now VA Secretary Eric Shinseki has resigned as a result of the investigation. After the public urging of accountability for the secretary and other officials who presided over the potential widespread medical malpractice perpetrated against our country’s veterans, the oversight of the scandal will now fall into the hands of his successor.
Although most people in South Carolina and across the country have heard of anorexia and bulimia, there’s a whole other category of eating disorders known as “Eating disorder not otherwise specified.” This catch-all phrase lumps together numerous patients with unhealthy eating behavior, but because it is so broad and the symptoms do not fit into typical categories like more mainstream disorders, patients are often left undiagnosed. Failure to diagnose is just one example of hospital negligence.
An incident involving a woman who died by hypothermia and asphyxiation after she was put in a body bag by hospital personnel may be of some interest to people who live in South Carolina. The 80-year-old woman from California was originally believed to have died from a heart attack back in July 2010. The hospital declared her to be dead, and she was put in the hospital's morgue, according to the report.
Readers from South Carolina may be concerned to learn of a recent study that may indicate marked inequalities in the quality of medical care around the nation. According to researchers, inpatient mortality rates can potentially differ by as much as 30 percent depending on factors as seemingly basic as the number of nurses assigned to each patient and the proportion of nurses with bachelor's degrees. Statistics like this could mean that the chances of falling victim to a form of medical malpractice could increase depending on factors that are wholly outside the patient's control.
South Carolina parents whose children have suffered injuries or died due to medical malpractice may be interested to learn that one parent is working as an advocate for new legislation called Leah's Law. The law, named after the woman's daughter who died after suffering respiratory arrest caused by the medicine provided by the hospital, would require that all hospitals monitor their patients' breathing electronically after every surgical procedure.