In 1999 a survey was conducted by the Institute of Medicine that reported between 48,000 and 98,000 Americans dying yearly as a result of preventable medical errors. Specifically, medication errors and neglect were to blame for the deaths. Shockingly, this makes hospital errors the eighth highest cause of death in the United States, above car crashes. The most mistakes occurred in hospitals run by the Veterans Health Administration. Apparently almost ten years has made little difference in VA hospitals, as lawsuits and complaints against them are numerous. A possible explanation for the high rate of errors is that VA doctors do not have to pay their own malpractice insurance since the government pays out for any harm caused by a doctor’s negligence. Further, the caliber of VA doctors may be lower than the general population; take, for example; Dr. Veizaga-Mendez, who was hired by the VA even though he had a history of medical malpractice lawsuits and claims against him. Hopefully the onslaught of medical malpractice lawsuits and allegations will instigate a change in VA hospitals.
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