#VAFail – Boston VA Misdiagnoses Veterans at an Alarming Rate
Veterans with traumatic brain injuries survived IED-littered battlefields only to fight for their lives at Department of Veterans Affairs facilities.
Misdiagnosis and incorrectly processed claims across the country led to a nation-wide review of TBI diagnosis and claims processing in 2012 by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG). The report found Boston VA facilities did not inform patients about positive TBI screenings, nor did officials refer patients to comprehensive evaluations as required.
The VA claimed to address these issues, but a 2015 inspection of the Boston Regional Office uncovered more mistakes. This time, one in six TBI claims improperly assessed the degree of disability, leaving many veterans underpaid and untreated.
Additionally, the OIG found that many veterans were not receiving enough information about their diagnosis or were being misdiagnosed by unqualified physicians who were not trained to identify and treat TBIs.
This isn’t the only trouble for the VA in Massachusetts this week. The Boston Herald reports that combat veteran Brian Callahan suffered seizures for six years and VA officials attributed the seizures to stress or migraines. After losing his job due to his illness, Callahan went to Mass General Hospital where a specialist told him about a mass in his brain – something no VA official felt necessary to discuss with him.
Misdiagnosed and under-served Massachusetts veterans are not alone. Last year the VA sent out thousands of letters to veterans stating that they may not have been properly examined for traumatic brain injuries. This resulted in continued symptoms and lack of benefits for some.
The VA Office of the Inspector General plans to do another review next year, but these investigations do little to solve problems when the officials responsible face no consequences. The Department of Veterans Affairs officials who neglect veterans must be held responsible for their actions.