Over the past decade hundreds of thousands of Americans have worked in one capacity or another in our military effort overseas. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have collectedly lasted longer than any other way in our history–countless servicemembers (and their families) have been affected emotionally, physically, and mentally as a result of these efforts.
Fortunately, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides a range of services for our military members, including medical and psychological care. As with all healthcare providers, those working at VA hospitals and related medical centers they are obligated to ensure reasonable standards are met with each and every patient. When they fail to do so, a medical malpractice lawsuit may be appropriate to correct the harm. However, special rules may apply to what can be recovered and how the legal action must proceed in these cases. Most suits of this nature stem from medical errors that cause physical harm–failure to diagnose, medication errors, surgical mistakes, etc.–but they can also be rooted in psychological problems.
PTSD in Soldiers
This week a med mal trial started which was initiated by an Iraq War veteran who sued the VA alleging problems with the treatment he received for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD is coming to be known as one of the “signature” ailments suffered by returning veterans. It involves a very complex mix of emotions that can wreck havoc on the lives of those affected. For this reason,it is critical not to downplay the seriousness of the injury or the importance of receiving proper treatment following a diagnosis.
According to Penn Live, this particular lawsuit includes claims that professionals at the VA hospital where he received care in 2007 for PTSD prescribed him medication that was inappropriate for his condition. The lawyer for the plaintiff in the case claims that this is a straightforward situation where the VA hospital, which should be incredibly familiar with PTSD, made basic errors that caused the man severe harm.
The story claims that when seeking treatment the plaintiff told his caregivers about “recurring nightmares, fits of anger, insomnia, flashbacks and paranoia.” The plaintiff’s doctor explained that the main incident which sparked the PTSD was the storming of an apartment building in Iraq in the earlier stages of the war (2003). The plaintiff heard voices from the apartment and shot the locked door to get inside. When he made it inside he saw a young boy dying on the floor–his initial reaction was that he himself was the cause of the child’s injury.
Besides the medication problems, the attorney for the plaintiff in the medical malpractice case claims that the VA did not allow the servicemember to see a trained psychiatrist or physician even once in a crucial period. This was the case even though a letter from the VA’s own preliminary examiners claimed that this expert help was necessary. As a result he did not receive the PTSD therapy that he likely needed. Instead, the man’s only support came from drug prescriptions and alterations made over the phone by physician’s assistants and nurses.
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