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Veteran's widow awarded $800,000 for VA medical malpractice

When a person checks into an Oregon hospital for treatment, he or she does so with faith that the medical staff is competent and armed with a thorough knowledge of ailments, treatments and care. It is assumed that the staff would be careful and educated enough to correctly give medications and be familiar with their uses and interactions. This was not so for the medical staff at one VA hospital in another state where a veteran was repeatedly given the wrong medication. That mistake caused severe damage that took the man's life, so his widow filed a medical malpractice claim against the government and was recently awarded $800,000 for her loss.

Last year, a 64-year-old Air Force veteran checked into a VA hospital for treatment for nausea and vomiting. He was prescribed a medication called filgrastim, which promotes the growth of white blood cells. Instead, he was actually given multiple injections of a drug with a similar name, pegfilgtastim. The drug he was prescribed can be administered daily, while the drug he was actually given cannot.

The medication error caused severe damage to the man's body. He developed pulmonary toxicity which developed into acute respiratory distress syndrome or severe acute lung injury. His health rapidly declined, and he died 11 days after he checked into the facility.

Since he was treated at a VA hospital, the veteran's widow filed a medical malpractice claim against the government with respect to his death. She asserts that the reason for the lawsuit was not merely about financial compensation. She wants to ensure that new policies and procedures are developed and utilized at the facility to ensure the same fate doesn't befall other veterans seeking care there. Recently, both parties avoided a trial when they reached a settlement agreement. The widow was awarded $800,000 for her loss, but the VA admitted no liability in the matter.

One would assume that medical staff would be knowledgeable enough about medications to notice a discrepancy before the effects were this severe, but that isn't always the case. Medication errors happen, and often the consequences are devastating. When these tragedies occur, whether in Oregon or another state, the victim or the victim's family can file a medical malpractice claim against the offending medical provider with the help of an attorney experienced in medical malpractice law.

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