A recent report showed that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has paid out $871 million in medical malpractice lawsuit settlements since 2006. The report, compiled by the Daily Caller News Foundation, also showed that the average VA medical malpractice lawsuit settlement for the last ten years was $200,000, with eight cases involving settlements of at least $1 million. The study also found that the amounts of these settlements has been on the rise, with $230 million in 2014 alone, including $30 million for only four cases.
Details on the Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Settlement Report
The report examined more than 4,300 medical malpractice lawsuit settlements the VA has reached with patients in the last decade. The data revealed that the department had 541 medical malpractice lawsuit settlements in 2014, compared with only 322 in 2006. The cases involved in the settlements ranged from patients who died or were seriously injured during surgery at VA hospitals, to orderlies and other staffers whose alleged abuse of patients led to fatalities.
Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Settlement Statistics
The report cited VA statistics regarding its level of care. A VA spokesman told reporters that the department conducted 93 million patient visits in 2014. Out of those millions of patient visits, only one out of 170,000 resulted in a medical malpractice lawsuit settlement. When a patient files a medical malpractice lawsuit against the VA, the department makes a medical malpractice lawsuit settlement payment in just over one-quarter of all cases. In the remainder of the cases, the suits are either dismissed, dropped, or continue on to trial.
Report: VA Pays Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Settlements Even When “Not Culpable”
A VA spokesman told reporters that one of the reasons for so many medical malpractice lawsuit settlements is that the department “may settle tort litigation matters for any number of reasons.” The department has its own investigations unit, including more than 770 attorneys on staff, but often reaches medical malpractice lawsuit settlement agreements with patients even when those investigations find that the VA is “not culpable.”
Do Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Settlements Cover Employee Wrongdoing?
Critics point to the high number of medical malpractice lawsuit settlements as a means for the department to protect employee misbehavior. These settlement agreements usually contain clauses that include denials of wrongdoing on the VA’s part. In one case, witnesses testified that a nurse’s aide beat a 70-year-old patient to death in a VA hospital. The VA paid the patient’s family $215,000 in a medical malpractice lawsuit settlement. Despite evidence from the local coroner, the VA cleared the nurse’s aide and did not discipline the employee.
Source: Daily Caller
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