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Large-scale clerical error may have harmed patients

It’s pretty easy to understand that there may be tragic consequences when a patient in need of medical attention is unable to see a doctor. Without any care or treatments, even conditions that would otherwise respond to medical treatments might take a serious turn.

Unbelievably, there are allegations of this very scenario playing out at a medical center operated by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. An estimated 1,700 patients may not have received treatment because VA officials failed to put their names on the official waiting list.

It’s unclear whether that potential breach in the center’s duty of care caused injury, but as many as 40 veterans may have died while waiting for doctor’s appointments. An investigation is underway, which will include autopsy analysis and a review of various records.

Sadly, long wait lists may not be an anomaly in the VA hospital network. According to one report, there may be systemic issues with long waiting periods at almost one-third of the VA's 150 medical centers across the country.

Hospitals owe a duty of care to patients, often beginning from the first communication. If a hospital administratively mishandled a patient’s records or information, the patient is often the one to suffer. If you believe you have been the victim of such neglect, don’t delay in contacting a medical malpractice attorney. With an attorney’s help, an injured patient can require hospitals to explain their actions -- or inaction -- before a civil jury. A jury, faced with evidence of a medical center’s administrative oversight, can determine whether that patient should be awarded compensation for that negligence.

Source: The New York Times, “Severe Report Finds V.A. Hid Waiting Lists at Hospitals,” Richard A. Oppel Jr. and Michael D. Shear, May 28, 2014

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