Most major news outlets have been covering the ever-unfolding story of veterans who received substandard care – or, in some cases, no care at all – from Veterans Administration (VA) hospitals. While government investigations into these allegations are ongoing and the President has promised accountability once those investigations are complete, some families are attempting to hold the VA responsible themselves. For instance, the family of Donald Douglass, of Washington, has recently filed a medical malpractice suit against the VA Medical Center in Puget Sound. According to the allegations, Mr. Douglass went to the VA for a biopsy for melanoma on his forehead in 2011. VA doctors determined that he would require surgery, but Mr. Douglass never received a referral for the surgery. After repeated delays, the allegations continue, Mr. Douglass underwent the necessary surgery at the University of Washington Medical Center. However, by then the cancer had spread and it was too late to save Mr. Douglass. He died in November 2012.
Delay in Patient Care Can Be Grounds for Malpractice
A 2012 article from the Wall Street Journal recounted several studies regarding the wait time the average American faces in receiving medical care. These surveys included a 2009 survey by consulting group Merritt Hawkins, which found that the average wait to see a new family doctor is approximately three weeks, while in Massachusetts (at the time) the average wait time was two months. A 2007 study of California in the Annals of Emergency Medicine showed that 20% of emergency room patients entered the ER without first seeing a doctor because they were tired of waiting. And a 2008 New York Times survey of dermatologists found that patients with Medicare could wait two to three weeks before seeing a doctor.
The heart of a medical malpractice claim is the allegation that a particular healthcare provider did not abide by the “standard of care” that a reasonably prudent and competent professional would have administered under the same or similar circumstances. A delay in receiving an appointment or service can result in a healthcare professional being liable for medical malpractice, but only if that delay violated the “standard of care.”
Medical Malpractice Cases Require Expert Help
Contact us today at (508) 755-7535 for a free consultation if you or a loved one has been injured by the negligence of a healthcare professional. Medical malpractice covers not just things doctors do – like leaving a surgical tool inside a person after surgery – but it also covers things doctors should do but fail to do – like failing to diagnose a disease or delaying in seeing or treating a patient for too long. These cases are often complex, though, and require the assistance of an experienced medical malpractice attorney and the presentation of expert testimony and evidence. Contact us today.