Va Hospitals Providing Poor Care

Veteran affairs hospitals or what is simply referred to as VA hospitals are institutions that were created by the United States Veteran Affairs Department to be providing health care to veterans. In the past, these institutions were highly reputed for great work they did in ensuring that war veterans were attended to whenever they were in need of this assistance but this is no longer the case. Things have changed such that the once highly reputed hospitals are today highly criticized for poor provision of health care.

Of late many American veterans have died in the hands of doctors from these hospitals for their lack of capacity to offer quality healthcare. This research paper will mainly focus on such cases and show how provision of poor quality care to veterans in VA hospitals has affected them. The establishment of Veteran Affairs Department dates back to the 17th century during the conflict between the Pequot Indians and Plymouth.

Since then, the VA hospitals are still operational and the good work they have done in the past cannot go unmentioned but of late, there are so many complain regarding the quality of care that they offer. It is unfortunate that institutions that are entrusted with the role of taking care of veterans are the same that are leading to their death or other health complications. According to the Austin News (June 22, 2009), there were ninety two cases of incorrect radiation doses within a six-year period that were given to veterans during their surgical procedures that are meant to treat prostrate cancer.

According to this press, the doctors admitted to have botched this procedure 92 times out of the required 116 in a year and to make the matter worse, they continued with this treatment procedure and yet they did not have a health monitoring equipment. Physicians also agreed that there occurs treatment errors for example they agreed that they had botched ninety two cases out of 114 where brachytherapy or a situation where a radio active seed is implanted in ones body to kill cancerous cells.

In this case, veterans under treatment received either less dosage that what is prescribed or more than what was prescribed leading to the destruction of the nearby tissues due to excessive radiations. Indeed, as per the report that was made by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, there were actually fifty seven cases where veterans with cancer received lesser dose than the required and there were other 35 cases of overdose (Associated Press. 2008). There are many cases where veteran hospitals have failed to act accordingly leading to some health complications and eventually to deaths.

A case in point is that which occurred in June, 2007 in Illinois at Marion III Veteran Hospital. In this incident, a disabled veteran soldier in the Vietnam War went to this hospital complaining of both abdominal and chest pain. Proper diagnosis and tests were done which revealed that the patient’s spleen had ruptured and thus he needed an immediate surgery. Indeed, the surgery was done in good time and everything was alright but soon after the surgery, it was noted that the patient’s body temperature had fallen dangerously and needed immediate transfusion.

They knew too well that the patient would die if they failed to act immediately and yet they did not do so. All in all, the blood transfusion was done but it was done too late and so he died. After his death, investigations were done to establish the cause for his death and it was established that this was not the first death to have occurred due to the hospital’s inefficiency. In fact, as per the report that was produced by the VA Inspector General, there were other 19 death cases that had occurred and thus this was just one of them (Associated Press. 2008).

Investigations also revealed that the hospital’s surgical specialty was not in order something that hampered the quality of care that was given to this patient; prior to this surgery, during the surgery and after the surgery. Another thing that was noted to have caused the death of this veteran was the incompetence of the physicians in this hospital. Had this patient gone to another hospital with an effective surgery specialty and with competent medical physicians, perhaps he could not have died or the same hospital had provided him with proper medical attention he deserved (Rieckhoff, 2008).

As per the investigations that were conducted by the Department of Veterans Affairs, more than a dozen veterans were seriously harmed at Marion Ill VA hospital due to medical mistakes that could have been avoided. Reports done shown that some of those entrusted with this job were incompetent in that they lacked some required credentials. It is unethical for unqualified medical personnel to be entrusted with the work of taking care of the sick as the consequences might be too big to bear.

A case in hand is of Bob Shank, an Air Force veteran who had to undergo a minor gall bladder surgery little did he know that he would die in the process. The cause of his death is attributed to the doctor who conducted the surgery, Jose Veizaga-Mendez. According to the reports, this doctor was hired by the Marion hospital despite the fact that he had just settled two malpractice cases in court and had other seven substandard care cases that he committed in a Massachusetts hospital that awaited investigations (Schaper, 2008).

Apart from the above, veterans complain of receiving inadequate treatment in VA hospitals and the reason that is attributed to this is under-funding. According to the 2003 report by the Government’s Accountability Office (GAO), veterans cover long distances before they could make it to hospital and one cannot be treated without an appointment. Veterans especially those from Florida complained of having to wait for too long before they could secure an appointment. Again, these hospitals do not have enough staff to meet the ever growing demand of veterans in need of this care.

It is common knowledge that people go to hospitals because they are sick and thus it beats the logic of going to hospital on appointment considering that some illnesses cannot wait. According to the report that was made in 2007 over the conditions at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, war veterans were poorly treated for example, they would sleep in rooms with fruit flies and would sleep on broken beds not mentioning the incompetent staff in this hospital but this was perhaps because of the high influx of veterans due to the Iraq and Afghanistan war.

Again most VA hospitals do not have the capacity to deal with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PSTS) According to a survey that was conducted in 2005, only half of these hospitals had a good clinical team to deal with the problem (The center for Public Integrity, 2009). Based on the number of cases of deaths and other health complications that have been reported in veteran hospitals, it is no doubt that these institutions have failed to give veterans what they require, proper health care.

Many have gone there with expectations that their problems would be solved only to end up with more problems. Investigations that have been done show that many patients with cancerous cells are either overdosed or are under dosed. Also according to the report that was released by Washington Post, many war veterans slept on dirty rooms with broken bed in 2007 although this was perhaps due to the high turn out of veterans due to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

It is unfortunate that institutions that are supposed to take care of the welfare of the veterans are the same that are contributing to their death partly due to their negligence.


Associated Press. 2008. 19 Deaths at VA traced to Substandard Care: Two Federal Reports find Fault with 6 Doctors at Ill. Hospital. Available at http://www. msnbc. msn. com/id/22896435/ Austin News. June 22, 2009. Concerns of Poor care at VA Hospitals. Available at http://www. kxan. com/dpp/health/disease_conditions/wwlp_ap_health_concernsof poorcareatvahospital_20090622847_2560467

Schaper, D. 2008. Report: Poor care at VA Hospital Caused 9 Deaths. Retrieved from http://www. npr. org/templates/story/story. php? storyId=18499721 The Center for Public Integrity. 2009. Poor Health Care for Veterans. Accessed at http://www. publicintegrity. org/investigations/broken_government/articles/entry/1 041/ Rieckhoff, P. 2008. Poor Care Costs Veterans’ Lives at Marion, IL, Veterans’ Hospital. Accessed from http://www. huffingtonpost. com/paul-rieckhoff/poor- care-costs-veterans_b_84112. html

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