Veterans Affairs medical malpractice payouts reach decadal high

There is no doubt that people who have dedicated their lives to protecting this country and its freedoms deserve top-quality care and treatment when they return home, including medical care. Tragically, service members and veterans may not always receive that care, as evidenced by the rising number of military medical malpractice payouts made by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in the last decade.

Malpractice results in birth error

According to the Killeen Daily Herald, a recently settled case involved an Iraq War veteran's child, who was born at Fort Hood in Sept. 2008. The baby sustained brain damage during the birth, was hospitalized for more than a week and was later diagnosed with cerebral palsy. The parents filed a suit alleging that doctors ignored signs of complications during the delivery that would have allowed them to prevent the birth injury from occurring.

Sadly, this case was not an isolated incident. Military medical malpractice cases affecting service members or their families have made numerous headlines in recent years, and reports show that the number of payouts made to service members who fell victim to malpractice has been growing.

VA payouts hit 10-year high

According to Ohio's Dayton Daily News, payouts from the Department of Veterans Affairs have increased in the last decade. Some telling facts:

  • The VA has disbursed compensation to more than 4,000 victims of military malpractice in the last decade.
  • In 2012, a 10-year high of $98.3 million was paid to settle 454 cases.
  • About one in four VA malpractice claims lead to a payout.
  • Aside from 2008, when 462 payouts were made, 2012 represented the highest number of settlements in the last decade.

The same source reports that the VA takes malpractice cases seriously and pays out a higher proportion of malpractice claims than private health providers do. It is worth noting that just 1,544 medical malpractice claims were filed with the VA in 2012, a year in which more than 6.3 million veterans were treated. Still, the fact that payout amounts and the number of cases settled in 2012 - the most recent year for which data was reported - are among the highest in the last decade is troubling, to say the least.

Sadly, statistics indicate that medical errors and negligence affect a large number of people in the U.S., and current or former service members are no exception. If you have been hurt while receiving care from a government or military healthcare provider, make sure to protect your rights and discuss seeking compensation with an attorney who has experience with this particular type of malpractice.