A recent study by The Clinical Spine Surgery looked at why VA doctors continue to operate on the wrong part of the spines of veterans. The Veterans Administration says that 32 of these spinal surgery medical mistakes occurred between 2000 and 2017.
Operating on the wrong part of the spine can cause extensive long-term damage to patients. For starters, the patients normally will need two follow-up operations. The first is to correct, if possible, any damage due to the incorrect procedure. The second operation is to perform the surgery on the correct spinal part – the one the doctors should have done in the first place.
Types of medical mistakes VA spinal surgeons are making
The study showed that a leading cause of these medical malpractice mistakes is due to imaging study errors. Mistakes in using radiographs and “intraoperative markers” were being investigated. At the core, the failure to optimize the quality of the images for accuracy was being assessed.
Another source of medical error was the use of telehealth services. These services save costs but do so sometimes at the risk of quality medical care. Often imaging studies aren’t being done at the local VA site. Instead software is being used to send the images and radiology reports to other VA departments, such as in California, where the results can be studied. Outsourcing the reading and analysis of these tests has caused surgeons, who need prompt and accurate readings, to fail to get the results on time, due to the time to transmit them and the time to analyze the images at the foreign location.
Types of medical error claims
Veterans who suffer spinal cord injuries or any injuries due to medical malpractice do have the right to hold negligent doctors and technicians accountable. There are generally two types of claims that can be filed:
- A disability claim through the Veterans Administration. This is usually done through a Section 1151 claim. Payments are usually monthly for a period of years. The damage amount is based on the veteran’s inability to earn an income.
- A tort/negligence claims through the Federal Tort Claims Act. Claims are usually paid in one check. Damages include economic loss and the veteran’s pain and suffering due to the medical malpractice. Claims are normally filed first with the Veterans Administration. Claim denials can be appealed on a timely basis.
All doctors need to put the safety of their patients first. This is especially true when the patients are our nation’s veterans. It’s no excuse for a doctor to say the imaging tests were inaccurate. The operating physician needs to work with the VA to make sure the imaging tests are done accurately and on a timely basis.
When medical mistakes happen, you need the help of experienced Mississippi medical malpractice lawyers. For help now, call Merkel & Cocke, P.A. at 662-627-9641 or fill out our contact form to schedule an appointment. We represent veterans and civilians from our offices in Jackson, Clarksdale, and Oxford, and make in-home and in-hospital visits for those who cannot travel.