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Analysis: VA medical malpractice cases paid out at higher rate

An investigative reporting team joined with a team of producers and reporters from Cox Media Group held outlets to produce an analysis of a huge federal database of government payouts for health-related Department of Veterans Affairs lawsuits and settlements. The result was the discovery of almost 4,500 cases of alleged medical malpractice that the VA settled or lost outright across the U.S. for the preceding decade. Taxpayers reportedly paid out $845 million in these cases.

An assistant professor at Harvard University said that about 25 percent of claims filed against the VA result in a government payout. This contrasts with the roughly 20 percent of payouts made in private sector healthcare systems. His information came from a study he published in The New England Journal of Medicine. The research involved a survey of 40,000 doctors.

The VA responded to Cox's investigation with a statement that it takes these issues seriously. Furthermore, the statement attested to the agency's commitment to continuous improvement through counseling, training and other resources geared toward continuing to provide safe, high-quality and effective care for veterans. The VA denied all requests for interviews from the media outlet Channel 2. A representative of the Washington-based advocacy group Cause of Action said that this trend was hurting not only taxpayers but also public health in general. He recommended an Inspector General's audit after being shown by Channel 2 the 2012 total of VA malpractice costs, which amounted to almost $100 million.

Greenville veterans may face doctor error or hospital error in VA facilities, but any patient risks worsened conditions when exposed to medical malpractice. Doctor negligence or hospital negligence may result in victims filing suit in court for medical expenses for a permanent disability or other long-term impact. A medical malpractice attorney may be able to help those affected negotiate a fair settlement with the insurance companies of the negligent party.

Source: WSB, "VA hospital paying record malpractice settlements", Aaron Diamant, November 12, 2013

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