After having to file suit, we recently settled this matter with the VA for $500,000. It was the sort of situation we have seen with unfortunate regularity over the last 20 years. The VA healthcare providers simply didn’t do the cancer screening that should have been done. The consequences are often tragic, just as they were in this case.
The veteran had a family history of prostate cancer. In 2007 he was 54 years old. That year, his VA healthcare provider had a PSA study done. PSA is a blood test looking for prostate specific antigens. A high level is suspicious for cancer. In 2007 this test was normal, below a level of 4.0. Unfortunately, the VA did not do another one for nine years. In the meantime, the veteran had complained of lethargy, urinary issues and unexplained weight loss. No one did much of anything. In 2016 another PSA was finally done. The level was 68.44, over 15 times normal. Further workup revealed that the veteran did indeed have advanced prostate cancer.
We filed a claim with the VA, but they didn’t do much with it. The veteran died and we amended the claim to make it for the benefit of his children. The VA denied the claim with a form letter. We filed suit. Fortunately, the Assistant United States Attorney represented the VA appreciated that the care was problematic. Relatively early on, we got the matter settled.
Both medically and procedurally, this case was nothing out of the ordinary. The medical care was poor. Sadly, that is nothing new. When the claim was made, there was no effort to resolve it even though it was clear that the veteran’s prognosis was poor. While that problem is better than it was a few years ago, it is still a problem.
For over 20 years we have handled hundreds of cases involving VA healthcare. We know what we are doing. Handling FTCA malpractice cases is not rocket science. However, it’s not a practice area for dabblers – even if you regularly handle state law malpractice cases. With this case, other lawyers might not have had the understanding or experience to see it to its conclusion. We do.