One part of the federal government that typically gets overlooked in San Antonio history classes is the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. But the story of the agency is a fascinating one; the VA’s origins can be traced back to 1789 when the brand new American government passed legislation creating pensions for disabled Revolutionary War veterans.
Today, there are more than 18 million vets, half of whom are served by the VA at one of 1,062 outpatient sites and 172 VA Medical Centers. Unfortunately, the VA’s record of service has too often been marred by substandard care and negligence that resulted in medical malpractice.
The modern version of the VA was established nearly 30 years ago when President Reagan signed legislation that elevated it to cabinet status.
Just two years later, the VA ordered its Chicago medical center to halt vascular and orthopedic surgeries after more than 40 patients died. After an investigation, the VA admitted responsibility in the deaths of eight patients.
Fast forward to 2009 when the VA notified more than 1,200 patients that they might have been treated with contaminated medical equipment at a Georgia facility. A month later, another 3,000 patients were notified that they might have been exposed to hepatitis and HIV at a Florida VA hospital.
A year later, more than 1,800 vets were told they might have been exposed to infectious diseases while undergoing dental procedures at a Missouri facility.
Two years ago, nearly 600 people were notified that they might been exposed to HIV and hepatitis B and C while getting dental care at a VA Medical Center in Wisconsin.
Of course, there are other scandals and failings that could be mentioned here if we had more room, not the least of which swirled around the Phoenix VA center where care was delayed for more than 1,700 vets; six of whom died on the waiting list.
If you or a loved one has suffered harm at the hands of a negligent VA physician, contact an attorney experienced in medical malpractice litigation.