Regardless of how the following numbers are massaged, they certainly don't look good for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. This bulleted summary of things gone wrong for the VA will certainly cause many of our readers across Arizona and elsewhere to duly reflect upon the sheer dimensions of substandard medical care that is unquestionably being administered to high numbers of patients at select VA facilities across the country.
We invite readers to consider the following data, as reported in a recent article spotlighting the broad scope of medical malpractice incidents at the VA:
- $870 million-plus in negligence settlement outlays over the past decade
- Progressively spiking claims, with 2015 being "by far the most expensive on record"
- 541 reported VA malpractice settlements last year (an average of nearly 1.5 such outcomes every day of the year)
- More than 4,350 settlements with injured patients over the past 10 years
Obviously, there is no way for VA officials or their representatives to put a positive spin on the reality that is manifestly reflected by such numbers. Indeed, the data point clearly to a problem that is endemic and seemingly intractable in nature.
One particularly interesting tangent of the above-cited media report focuses implicitly on the oft-advanced claim of so-called tort reformers that malpractice cases must be curtailed, given the alleged bank-breaking awards that victims often collect.
The data do not support that argument. As regards the aforementioned 4,350-plus settlements over the past decade, the average damage award for plaintiffs was $200,000. A million-dollar settlement is a flat rarity.
Conversely, what does emerge strongly from the data is the inescapable conclusion that the VA often pushes settlements that result in continued immunity from liability or job loss for parties who have delivered substandard care.
And that is wrong. Any person harmed through medical negligence can contact a proven malpractice attorney for candid guidance and strong representation that focuses upon a maximum legal recovery and, when possible, just punishment for parties whose incompetence has resulted in patient injuries.