Malpractice at VA: Scalpel Found in Veterans Stomach After 4 Years

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malpractice at vaAnother example of medical malpractice at VA hospital: the federal lawsuit said there was, “an abandoned surgical instrument in plaintiff’s body.”  A scalpel was in his abdomen, to be exact. It was left in veteran 61-year-old Glenford Turner’s body from his surgery four years prior at the Veterans Affairs (VA) hospital in West Craven, Connecticut.  It went undetected until he couldn’t stand the dizzy spells any longer.  Soon enough, it was discovered that the problem wasn’t his head at all. The real problem was due to lack of organization by the surgical team and then sewing up a metal surgical implement in his body. The scalpel wasn’t removed until almost a month later, and now he is stuck in a legal battle against the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs fighting for compensation, years after he volunteered his life to fight for his country.

Certainly, this should not happen to anyone, and veterans absolutely deserve better medical care than this. Sadly, VA hospitals have been exposed to have unsanitary conditions, overworked staff due to inadequate staffing, poor quality services, and atrocious wait times for veterans that can go for months. September 2017, Boston Globe came out with a story revealing atrocity after atrocity that include such cases as an anesthetist that couldn’t properly insert breathing tubes before an operation, a doctor that was incorrectly performing spine injections, falsifying records to reflect timely care, and veterans that became permanently disabled due to medical neglect.  There were over 2,000 complaints from VA whistleblowers that have been employees.

More whistleblowers have been encouraged to come forward to the new Office of Accountability, and Whistleblower Protection and the House Veterans’ Affairs Oversight and Investigations subcommittee have been holding investigations, but there are no acceptable explanations for why this has been allowed to happen to the men and women we claim to honor. The same Boston Globe article explains that there is much corruption right now, even against staff that is aiming to fix problems.  A USA TODAY investigation affirmed that the “VA knowingly hires doctors with past malpractice claims, discipline for poor care.”  Sadly, care staff hoping to make improvements are facing hard challenges from within as they find themselves snubbed, transferred, fired, and slander.  It looks like it will be a long road before things really improve.  

What Can Be Done Now?

In the meantime, veterans are recommended to keep detailed records about the services they receive. Keep track of the dates, times, names, phone calls, missed appointments (by them and the veteran) and the reasons why.  Also, note poor organization, poor communication.  Keep track of the medicines you are prescribed and any communication around how it came to be prescribed, and how it makes you feel.  This information is priceless if you should decide to move into work with an advocate, social worker, lawyer, etc..  

Author: Andrew

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