Medical Malpractice in the Military
If you’ve been injured as a result of medical care you received in a Veterans Administration medical facility, you may be entitled to seek compensation for damages. In these situations, however, the rules are different than those that would apply to medical malpractice in a civilian hospital.
A veteran who has been injured by a VA medical care provider has three options:
- Filing a VA disability claim (also known as a Section 1151 claim) and receiving compensation in a similar manner to any other service-connected injury.
- Pursuing a medical negligence claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act (which allows citizens to sue the government).
- Filing both a VA disability claim and a medical negligence claim. Any award obtained as a result of the medical negligence claim will be offset by the compensation received for the VA disability claim.
When you’re put under anesthesia, your life is in the hands of medical professionals. As long as an anesthesiologist accurately performs his or her task, the risks are minimal. However, when mistakes are made, problems are more likely to arise. Examples of anesthesiology mistakes include:
- Failure to monitor a patient’s airway
- Leaving a patient alone while he or she is under anesthesia
- Allowing a patient to fall when coming out of anesthesia
- Failure to monitor a patient’s heartbeat and vital signs while he or she is under anesthesia
- Administering the wrong dose of anesthesia medication
Failure to Diagnose
An early diagnosis can be the deciding factor between successful treatment and a debilitating health condition. If a Veterans Administration doctor fails to recognize a serious condition, you may be entitled to compensation.
Not every case of misdiagnosis is malpractice, however. If a medical provider performs each task required to diagnose a patient but still fails to recognize an illness in time to secure successful treatment, he or she cannot be accused of malpractice. But if the same provider fails to meet the standard of care, e.g. failing to order appropriate tests, then you may have a case.
When you are admitted to a VA hospital (or any medical facility), a positive outcome is not guaranteed. But as long as a hospital makes every effort to return you to health, there is no way to charge them with malpractice. However, if someone fails in his or her duty to treat you and you suffer from injury or illness as a result, you may be able to make a malpractice claim.
As long as the employee who mistreated or neglected to treat you worked for the hospital at the time, the hospital may be held responsible. And any employee – from janitors to nurses to the front desk receptionist – can be fingered in a hospital negligence case, as long as convincing evidence is provided. Of course, some of these cases – like slip-and-fall injuries – would fall under non-medical negligence, where the rules are different. And most doctors are not direct hospital employees. An experienced legal team can assist you in determining where blame lies and how to move forward with your case.
Prescription Drug Errors
When a doctor or pharmacist makes a prescription drug error, they’re risking lives, especially when it comes to older patients who often take several medications. A simple communication mistake can lead to serious injury, illness or death.
Examples of errors that may be considered malpractice:
- Giving a patient incorrect medication
- Giving a patient an incorrect dosage
- Failure to warn a patient about side effects
- Dispensing drugs that should not be mixed with a patient’s other medications
Surgery is a team effort. If one small thing goes wrong – if one person fails to perform his or her duty – the results can be deadly. But it takes more than a failed operation or the lack of a positive outcome to make a malpractice case. A member of the surgical team had to have made errors that directly contributed to a patient’s injury. Examples of surgical malpractice include:
- Operating on the wrong part of the body or for the wrong reason
- Damaging an organ adjacent to the operation area
- Anesthesia errors
- Failure to monitor a patient for sepsis
- Leaving surgical equipment inside a patient’s body
Filing Your Claim
The Berry Law Firm is a nationwide law firm representing veterans of every branch of the U.S. armed forces, including the National Guard and the Reserves. Founding attorney John S. Berry, Sr. and his son John S. Berry, Jr. are themselves veterans.
To speak with a member of our team, please call (888) 883-2483 today or contact us online. Your consultation is free. We represent veterans throughout the United States.