News 5 Investigates

Aug 15, 2014 8:27 PM by Eric Ross

News 5 Investigates: Claims paid by Colorado VA

More than 400 claims have been filed and nearly $15 million in damages have been awarded to Colorado veterans who sued the VA for poor healthcare and medical malpractice over the past decade.

"It took the VA 7 months to set up my first appointment," army veteran Donald Colvin Jr. said.

Colvin Jr. says he suffers from a knee injury, asthma, PTSD, and impaired hearing.

"To this day I'm still waiting to see a doctor for some of my problems," he said. "The VA says I'm on the list to see one, but I don't know where I am on that list."

Last week, the VA tooted their horn for having better care for veterans in Colorado compared to other parts of the nation, but did admit they have lost trust in the community following the national scandal.

"This operation in Denver is one of the best across the nation," Sloan Gibson with the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs said. "We are continuing to earn that trust day in and day out."

Documents obtained from the Veterans Affairs headquarters raises some major questions concerning claims made by veterans about health care.

In one case, a patient's prostate was wrongfully removed because of a paperwork mix-up.

Surgeons believed the patient had prostate cancer, but the file they were looking at belonged to a different veteran.

In another case, doctors failed to timely diagnose and treat a retinal detachment which caused a veteran to lose vision in his right eye.

A surgical clamp was left in one man's chest following triple bypass surgery, while another claims says a vet had a penile prosthesis operation that was not properly performed, resulting in severe pain to his penis and scrotum.

Perhaps even more disturbing, VA documents revealed in one case, intubation prior to surgery was improperly performed resulting in a lack of oxygen and permanent brain damage.


"We have seen trust erode in recent months," Gibson said. "We've got work to do and we've got to earn that trust back, even if it's one veteran at a time."

For veterans like Colvin Jr., he doesn't know when he'll gain confidence in the VA's ability to handle health care in a professional and timely manner.

"This is a town full of veterans and I have friends who are veterans," he said. "None of us have seen a change. I know change can take a while but the way they are talking is that change is happening and none of us are seeing it."

Patient privacy laws prevent the VA from commenting about specific cases. However, the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs did send us a formal letter when we requested malpractice claims and payouts through the Freedom of Information Act.

You can read that letter here:

VA Letter.pdf

To view a list of claims and payouts, click here:

Claims Paid in Colorado.pdf

If you have a story you'd like me to investigate, email me at eross@Koaa.com or call 228-6280.

 

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