Records show that more than 500 military veterans died due to serious mistakes at Veterans Affairs hospitals across the country between 2010 and 2014.
Between 2010 and 2014 there were a total of 1,452 “institutional disclosures of adverse events,” 526 of which resulted in patient deaths.
The data that served as evidence was obtained by the Washington Free Beacon through a Freedom of Information Act request.
According to the Veterans Health Administration these disclosures are required when “an adverse event has occurred during the patient’s care which resulted in death or serious injury.
The department defines adverse events as “untoward incidents, diagnostics or therapeutic misadventures, iatrogenic injuries, or other occurrences of harm of potential harm directly associated with care or services provided.”
The disclosures include feeding tubes being placed in patient’s lungs, patients being sent home with undiagnosed rib and shoulder fractures, and in one care, extracting the wrong tooth from a patient.
The 1,452 disclosures represent a minute portion of the hundreds of thousands of patients who are treated at VA hospitals every year. Unfortunately, they reveal for the first time a fuller picture of errors and lapses in medical coverage that affect veterans across the country.
Buried among the common mistakes that occur in hospitals across the United States are reports of the fatal delays in cancer diagnoses and follow-up treatments that could later lead to a national scandal and the resignation of the VA secretary. Common mistakes include incorrect dosages and surgical equipment accidentally left in patient’s bodies.
In 2012 alone, 74 patients with some form of cancer saw delays in their treatment or the initial findings were overlooked. Twelve of those veterans ultimately died from their illness.
Equally troublesome, but less frequent, are reports of the VA staff improperly screening patients at risk for suicide.
Medical privacy laws bar the disclosure of the names of patients and other details, making it difficult to document individual cases, but the data shows general trends. Reports of patient deaths and injuries rose steadily from 2010 to 2013, peaking with 126 reported deaths.