Federal audits of the Atlanta Veterans Administration Medical Center, released
earlier this summer, revealed a pattern of mismanagement of patient care and
medical malpractice within the hospital’s mental health division. This poor treatment
has been linked to at least four instances of suicide amongst the patient
population in recent years. The Atlanta Veterans Administration Medical
Center is one of the country’s largest integrated healthcare systems.
It employs nearly 30,000 healthcare professionals who serve approximately
Senate hearing called to address Hospital’s failure to provide adequate
standard of care.
In response to these findings, Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Georgia, called
for a U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs hearing to address the
hospital’s management of patient care. The Senate hearing was held
on August 7.
At the hearing, a top Department of Veterans Affairs official testified
that as a result of the federal investigations, three employees have been
reprimanded, two have retired, and several others are facing administrative
actions. In addition, the VA Undersecretary for Health, Robert Petzel,
stated that the hospital has hired 66 new employees charged with developing
and implementing broad changes in response to the federal investigations.
These improvements will include standardized policies for conducting urine
analysis and creating procedures to ensure that patients and visitors
are properly escorted throughout the hospital.
Furthermore, Undersecretary Petzel expressed regret for the four patient
suicides that were linked to the hospital’s poor standard of care.
One of these victims, who had a history of substance abuse and suicidal
thoughts, died of a drug overdose after obtaining drugs from a hospital
visitor when he was left unattended in a waiting room.
Providing adequate mental health care to veterans is vital, as many suffer
from post traumatic stress disorder and other mental health conditions
as a result of their time in combat.
Providing veterans with proper access to mental health resources is very
important. Many veterans deal with post traumatic stress disorder and
other mental health issues. It is estimated that of the 2.6 million service
members deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, approximately 13 to 20 percent
experience symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder. Furthermore, veterans
from other periods of combat also suffer from post traumatic stress disorder
which demands proper medical attention. For instance, it is estimated
that nearly 10 percent of Gulf War veterans suffer from post traumatic
stress disorder. In addition, about half of all Vietnam era veterans have
experienced stress reaction symptoms that were serious enough to warrant
medical attention at some point.
If you or a loved one are a veteran who has been denied proper medical
care, you should contact an attorney immediately. An attorney can review
your care to determine whether you have been a victim of medical malpractice
or medical negligence. If so, your attorney can help you receive the compensation
you deserve for the injuries that you may have suffered as a result.