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Lawmakers back bill that addresses medical malpractice in the VA

In early October, a national media source reported on the disturbing practice of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to purportedly protect medical providers who are believed to have failed to provide proper care for the nation's veterans. Now, three lawmakers are working together to help ensure that these men and woman are protected from physicians who are accused of medical malpractice. If the bill passes, it is hoped that veterans here in Arizona and elsewhere will be receive better quality care at VA hospitals.

These congressional members stated that they are outraged at the discovery that the VA would potentially shield medical providers from any consequences whenever their treatment resulted in greater harm or lack of relief for their patients. A USA Today article reported that one doctor affiliated with the VA allegedly committed malpractice an estimated 88 times. In spite of the harm this physician reportedly caused, he was not subjected to any disciplinary actions from the VA or the state licensing board.

The proposed legislation would require the VA to report any allegations or suspicions of malpractice to the applicable state medical licensing board in a timely fashion. If the measure is approved, then it would change the current policy that allows the agency to consider any allegations of poor or substandard treatment of veterans for approximately 100 days before it makes any decisions as to whether to report an incident. The bill, which is called the Ethical Patient Care for Veterans Act of 2017, was only recently introduced by lawmakers from Maine, Washington and Tennessee.

If it passes, it is hoped that veterans will receive health care from only qualified and conscientious physicians who will be held accountable for mistakes the same as medical providers in private practice. Arizona residents who believe that they have been a victim of medical malpractice may have grounds to pursue claims for monetary damages through the civil justice system. A successfully presented civil claim may result in a monetary judgment  for documented items of financial damage.

Source: wagmtv.com, "After Report Shows VA's Failure to Disclose Medical Malpractice at Togus, Rep. Poliquin Acts to Make Changes", Oct. 12, 2017

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