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Court: Vet’s widow waited too long to file medical malpractice claim

Her husband was a Navy veteran who died from kidney disease after a Veterans Affairs hospital delayed treatment. Two weeks after his death, his widow received a letter from the VA addressed to her husband, urging him to get immediate care.

She cannot sue for medical malpractice, however, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has decided. She waited too long to file a malpractice claim after the 2009 death of her husband.

The tale began back in 1995, while he was on deployment and was diagnosed with a kidney inflammation called lupus nephritis. He was medically retired from the service, but continued to receive treatment at a Phoenix, Arizona, VA hospital.

Fast forward to 2009 when a private doctor told him that blood tests showed signs of kidney failure and that he should make an immediate appointment at the VA. Unfortunately, he was told at the VA that he could not get an appointment for treatment until October or November.

As it turned out, he was not seen at the medical center until Dec. 2, 2009. A biopsy performed then determined he had end-stage kidney disease and must go on dialysis. Once again, the VA’s scheduling issues arose: he was told he couldn’t get dialysis until Dec. 30.

A week before the appointment, he collapsed and died of complications from his kidney disease, according to court documents. A couple of weeks later, the VA sent him a letter telling him to get immediate treatment or he could suffer “end-stage kidney disease and even death.”

Their story is a tragic series of medical errors and delays that turned out to be deadly. For our readers, it’s important to note that medical malpractice claims against VA doctors and hospitals have a two-year deadline.

You can discuss the details of your case, deadlines and the law with an attorney experienced in VA medical malpractice litigation.

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