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Veteran Medical Malpractice: A State of Uncaring

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Washington, DCToday is Veteran's Day, a time to respect and reflect. However, respecting and caring for veterans should be 365 days a year, especially those needing medical treatment. It is a sad state of affairs that some VA hospitals don't see it that way.

Daryl Taylor knew his father would die one day, he just didn't think that it would happen so soon, or that it could be the result of medical malpractice.

Veteran medical malpracticeDaryl's father, Wendell, served in Japan and worked for the federal government. Whenever he had health problems he went to a Veterans' Administration Hospital. Around five years ago, Wendell began having chest pains. As usual he went to the VA Hospital where he was treated for acid reflux and other stomach issues.

"He was treated for those problems for three to four years," Daryl says. "It wasn't until he was being tested for kidney issues that they discovered the real problem. He was having a barium test, and his kidney wasn't glowing, so they couldn't find it. They scanned his body to find out where the barium was going and it turned out he had internal bleeding from his aorta. I don't want to use the word assumption, but I think the whole time he was being treated for acid reflux, he was bleeding internally."

After the aortic bleeding was discovered, Wendell was sent for heart surgery. "I was told that it was a simple surgery, that it wouldn't be too complicated. But he came out of the surgery with an artificial valve and a pacemaker. He didn't need a pacemaker before the surgery. After the surgery, he was in rough shape."

Frustrated, Wendell and Daryl went to a Washington, DC hospital, one that was not VA related. "We spoke with the doctor for quite a while," Daryl says. "The nurse checked my dad out and the doctor did some tests. Then the doctor told us that he believes my father had a heart attack on the operating table at the VA but was never told about it. That was why the pacemaker was put in."

Daryl hoped his father would begin seeking medical attention outside the VA, but his father, upon seeing insurance paperwork for $1000, decided that the VA had fewer fees and would be better to go to.

"He was in there frequently to have his blood checked but it seemed like he never saw the same doctor twice," Daryl says. "He was passed from doctor to doctor."

In March 2006, just over a year after his heart surgery, Wendell went to the VA complaining about constipation. He was given an enema and released from the hospital. A week later, Wendell went back to the hospital complaining about the same problem. "He was admitted on Friday," Daryl says. "They phoned me and told me it was nothing serious, that he was admitted for observation. They did nothing to help him. On Sunday, I received a phone call that my father died."

"When I asked them about the cause of death, they said they didn't know," Daryl says. "It was only after I pressed the issue and pushed them that they finally said he died from heart failure and something related to constipation."

"I've had operations for tumors, so I know what hospitals are like," Daryl says. "The quality of service in VA hospitals is a joke. I knew that the time was going come that he would pass away. It just seems that in this case, it could have been prevented."


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If you have been a victim of medical malpractice, please contact a [Veteran Medical Malpractice] lawyer who will evaluate your claim at no charge.


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