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Veterans medical center under fire for possible medical errors

The way that the U.S. treats its veterans has been called into question in recent years as many lapses have been covered by the media here in Michigan in regard to veteran's disability benefits, mental health care and more. One of the most recent problems involves the medical care provided to veterans at veterans medical centers. The federal Office of Special Counsel, which investigates whistle-blower complaints, reported to the White House last month that it found evidence of serious problems at a veterans medical center in Jackson, Mississippi, that may be affecting patient care.

The problems include poor sterilization processes, understaffing and possible missed diagnoses--all of which can lead to cases of medical malpractice.

According to the special counsel, the most serious issues at the medical center involved radiology images that were not properly read. One radiologist reportedly failed to review some images but still marked them as having been read. This led to some fatal diseases going undiagnosed.

The Department of Veterans Affairs is now investigating the allegations further, and senior officials of the department held a public meeting to discuss the problems and announce that steps are being taken to address them. Officials said that the three major issues noted by the Office of Special Counsel--unsterilized medical equipment, hurried readings of X-Rays and CT scans, and a shortage of primary care doctors--have been resolved.

The public meeting reportedly did not go well, however, as several veterans took the opportunity to speak out about what they call poor care at the veterans clinics.

Our nation's veterans certainly deserve better care than what has been suggested in this report. In fact, all hospital patients deserve better care than that. When patients are harmed by medical malpractice, they may wish to seek legal counsel to determine whether it is possible to seek compensation for the damages and hold the negligent parties accountable.

Source: New York Times, "Veterans Affairs Officials Offer Reassurance About Troubled Hospital," James Dao, April 3, 2013

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