The Veterans Health Administration is one of the largest health care providers in the United States, providing care to more than 8.6 million of the 22 million veterans through 152 VA hospitals and 817 community-based outpatient clinics (as of March 30, 2012).
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs reports that in the past ten years, through Fiscal Year 2013, the number of medical malpractice claims resulting from VA health care filed each year ranged from 1,225 to 1,670. The average number of paid medical malpractice claims during that same period was 291 per year. The average total annual medical malpractice payments for the ten-year period was $76 million. The VA proudly asserts that as a percentage of total patient visits to the VA, paid medical malpractice claims represent only 0.0004%.
The VA Medical Malpractice Claim Process
A veteran who claims to have been injured due to negligent medical care at a VA health care facility by a VA employee or other VA provider and who seeks compensation for the veteran’s injuries and damages must proceed with an administrative claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), which provides very stringent requirements regarding how and when a claim must be made, and with whom the claim must be filed. The VA’s regulations regarding medical malpractice claims filed pursuant to the FTCA require that the Office of General Counsel (OGC) investigate the claim – if the OGC determines that the medical malpractice claim against the VA is meritorious, the OGC may negotiate a settlement of the claim.
In the event that the OGC administratively denies the medical malpractice claim, the veteran may request a reconsideration of the claim or may file a medical malpractice lawsuit in the U.S. District Court. If a timely reconsideration is filed, the veteran may file a federal medical malpractice lawsuit after six months from the date of filing for reconsideration of the claim. The United States of America is named as the defendant in a federal court FTCA lawsuit.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) represents the federal government in FTCA lawsuits. Once in the hands of the DOJ, the DOJ may attempt to settle the veteran’s medical malpractice lawsuit, regardless of the OGC’s denial of the claim.
If there is a settlement or judgment in favor of a veteran in a veteran’s medical malpractice claim, the VA’s Office of Medical Legal Affairs (OMLA) is obligated to review the matter to determine if the medical malpractice payment was as a result of improper action or the failure to take appropriate action by a licensed practitioner. If so, the OMLA must determine if it was due to substandard care, professional incompetence, or professional misconduct and should be reported to the National Practitioner Data Bank and/or state licensing boards.
If you or a loved one are a veteran and may have a medical malpractice claim against the VA for substandard or otherwise negligent medical care, you should promptly consult with a VA medical malpractice lawyer (a FTCA lawyer) who may investigate your medical negligence claim for you, determine if the claim falls under the FTCA, file the timely and necessary notices and claims to the appropriate agency and others under the FTCA, and represent you with regard to your VA medical malpractice claim, if appropriate.
Click here to visit our website or call us toll-free at 800-295-3959 to be connected with lawyers in your state who may assist you with your VA medical malpractice claim.
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