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VA hospitals pay 59 California families in wrongful death cases

Veterans comprise one demographic that requires specialized medical attention. In addition to needing treatment for injuries, many vets suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health issues. To get better, many turn to the Department of Veterans Affairs and its hospitals, such as the one in San Diego. Those hospitals have recently come under scrutiny for the multitude of wrongful death cases. As one deceased vet's sister notes, these settlements are often about more than just money.

The 86-year-old woman lost her brother, a World War II veteran, in 2008. The man was admitted to a VA nursing home, and his sister said she asked staff not to leave him unattended. He fell in the bathroom just two days later while by himself, which resulted in paralysis from the neck down. He passed away nine days later, and his sister, who said she just wanted someone to be held accountable, was awarded a $135,000 settlement.

According to the Center for Investigative Reporting, since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, the Department of Veterans Affairs has paid out more than $200 million for wrongful death cases, which involve suicides, missed diagnoses and neglect. Fifty-nine of the nearly 1,000 grieving families are in California. In one situation in a San Diego VA hospital, a veteran died after an intern failed to remove a central-line catheter.

More than 6 million veterans seek the help of a VA facility every year, expecting to receive quality care. It is important that anyone, veteran or civilian, who receives improper medical care understands his or her rights. The victim or, if he or she is deceased, the family should immediately contact an attorney to discuss filing either a medical malpractice or wrongful death claim.

Source: U-T San Diego, "VA pays out $200M for wrongful deaths," Aaron Glantz, April 8, 2014 

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