It's a heartbreaking story, when you consider that a veteran went into the hospital to be treated for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) only to never recover. In fact, Michael Keating was reported to become unresponsive while an inpatient at Veterans Administration Medical Center in Coatesville, Pennsylvania. Keating never regained consciousness and passed away after remaining in a coma for several months.
There was no information as to the age of the man at the time of his death or the circumstances that led to his diagnosis of PTSD.
The December 3 issue of Health Law Week noted that Keating's spouse sued Veterans Affairs (The VA) for wrongful death, alleging veterans medical malpractice. The defendant, in turn, moved to have the action dismissed on the grounds that the Standard Form 95 provided by the deceased veteran's widow presented only a survival claim.
The district court concluded that, under applicable precedent interpreting the Federal Tort Claims Act, even if the Standard Form 95 was technically deficient, it provided sufficient notice to the VA of the wrongful death claim to permit the VA to conduct an investigation and settlement. Prior correspondence from the VA to Keating's widow referring to her assertion of a wrongful death claim supported this conclusion in the court's view.
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As a result, the veteran medical malpractice lawsuit on behalf of Michael Keating can go forward, with the exception of loss of consortium—the lone aspect of the lawsuit that was struck down and dismissed by the court, in deference to the motion filed by the defendant.
Medical negligence lawsuits are often brought by injured veterans, or by the families or estates of veterans who have died, alleging substandard care. Critics of the VA have long advocated that returning veterans, regardless of age or the particular conflict, are deserving of the finest care available in exchange for putting their lives on the line to serve and defend their country.