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Department of Veteran's Affairs: Medical malpractice, cover-ups

Recently, a 119-page report on the Department of Veterans Affairs was released by Senator Tom Coburn, and it claims that the system has a culture of cover-ups, crimes, coercion and incompetence. In past reports that you may have read, there have been accusations that the VA had been falsifying scheduling records to hide treatment delays. Coburn claims that those issues are just the tip of the iceberg.

Coburn was in charge of a year-long review of the VA. During this time, he reported finding startling information including information that could be used to describe medical malpractice, negligence or other problems. He claims a former VA police chief had been convicted of plotting to rape, kidnap and murder women and children. A VA employee had charged at least $109,000 in unauthorized travel expenses to the department in Nashville; the inspector general found that the worker was not supervised closely and traveled when and where he wanted without paying his own expenses.

In other cases, a VA neurologist was charged and pleaded no contest to 24 counts of sexual misconduct. He also had to register as a sex offender after five women accused him of performing inappropriate pelvic and breast exams. Most shocking of all was a report that over 1,000 veterans may have died as a direct result of misconduct at the VA. The VA itself has paid out $845 million in medical malpractice fees since 2001.

What this all means, Coburn suggests, is that the VA is worse than what had previously been imagined. Right now, the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee has had 25 hearings during this current session of congress to discuss the VA's backlog of claims, the overuse of pain medication and veteran suicides. Coburn believes money is not the issue and that the issue comes from within the organization.

It's hoped that with this latest report, the VA may undergo changes for the better. If your family member has suffered at the VA, though, those changes may come too late. In your case, discussing what happened with someone who can help may put you on the right legal path.

Source: The Washington Post, "Coburn report slams VA as ‘broken system’" Josh Hicks, Jun. 25, 2014

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