#VAFails – Peeping Tom, missed diagnosis and a mistaken “Do Not Resuscitate”
The nation will honor and celebrate our nation’s heroes on Saturday in honor of Veterans Day. Leading up to that day, a flood of articles have pointed out alleged misconduct, poor care and gross negligence at three different VAs, showing just how dysfunctional the VA can be for the veterans who are caught in the system.
We start with allegations against a nurse in the Veterans Affairs Pittsburgh Healthcare System. VA nurse Paul May has been charged with a list of misdemeanors – loitering and prowling, possessing instruments of crime and invasion of privacy – after being accused of using a telescope to spy on University of Pittsburgh dorms from the VA’s parking garage. According to the report in the Pittsburgh Tribune, the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System is taking steps to fire this employee for his alleged lecherous behavior.
Down in Texas, an Army veteran claims that his past drug use was the primary focus of VA physicians rather than the esophageal issues he presented with. He claims that his now stage IV esophageal cancer went undetected by VA doctors and was even told “there’s nothing wrong with you.” The veteran was diagnosed at a private sector hospital and is now being treated for that diagnosis at the VA.
And finally, in Michigan, a report from the Office of Inspector General (OIG) found that a VA nurse made a mistake that prevented attempts to resuscitate an unconscious veteran who subsequently died. The report found that the nurse “mistakenly believed he [the patient] didn’t want to be resuscitated in an emergency.” Complications began while the patient recovered from surgery and became unresponsive. The nurse erroneously informed medical staff that the patient had a DNR (do not resuscitate order). There was no such order, no resuscitation was attempted, and the patient subsequently died, the report indicated. This is not the first time this VA facility has had an issue with monitoring high risk patients.
These are appalling revelations, especially in light of Veterans Day approaching this weekend. These are men and women who answered the call to serve their country. They do not deserve to be trapped in a health care system that subjects them misconduct and mistakes, with few to no options for care outside the VA. Veterans have earned the right to quality health care when and where they need it.