The members of the United States Military often go into war-torn areas of the world as young, healthy individuals. Many of them return with health problems that can't be treated at their local clinic. They might need specialized care, including extensive mental health treatment. Sometimes there treatment options are limited to Veterans Affairs medical centers.
Recently, one VA hospital has come under intense scrutiny because of the poor quality of care patients have received, even prompting complaints by staff about hospital conditions. The publicity on the issue got so negative, the Department of Veterans Affairs sent in their most senior official in their hospital system to address the complaints. After hearing of improper sterilization, long wait times and misread radiological images, the official said that those issues were addressed and the hospital still has above average medical care and standards.
While standards might be in place, having such standards and written policies and procedures does not mean that those procedures are being followed. These issues can result in severe medical complications. If a radiologist fails to accurately read an x-ray or other scan, a person's condition could be misdiagnosed or missed entirely.
Our veterans deserve the best medical care possible. No matter what hospital a person is treated at, they shouldn't have to wait five hours for medical care when they have an appointment, and people shouldn't be concerned that a CT scan was misread, potentially leaving their condition undiagnosed, and possibly getting worse. Misdiagnosis and improper sterilization are medical malpractice issues, and patients should understand their rights if they become a victim of malpractice.
Source: New York Times, "Veterans Affairs Officials Offer Reassurance About Troubled Hospital," James Dao, April 3, 2013.
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