The Hampton Veterans Affairs Medical Center may undergo its third review by VA inspectors in less than a year if agency heads grant Virginia Sen. Jim Webb’s request that the VA Inspector General follow up on nearly 150 recent complaints of medical malpractice, patient abuse, medication errors and wrongful deaths.
The Virginian-Pilot reported on Thursday, Oct. 22, that Webb, a Democrat and retired Marine who received a Navy Cross, a Silver Star Medal, two Bronze Star Medals, and two Purple Hearts due to actions in combat in Vietnam, has called for a top-to-bottom review of health care delivery at the Hampton VAMC. Center Director Deanne Seekins told the paper that the facility ranks fifth in quality out of 34 similar VAMCs. Seekins also noted that she and her predecessor had implemented measures to correct problems such as not ensuring the safety of patients in the center’s psychiatric ward.
A case that may have spurred Webb to call for a broader look at health care practices and procedures at the Hampton VAMC was that of fellow Marine veteran John Morgan. In November 2008, doctors at the facility ignored Morgan when he said he was having a stroke, did not perform tests to detect a stroke and offered no stroke-related treatment despite Morgan’s statement that he had suffered an earlier stroke.
Sent home without receiving proper care, Morgan became permanently disabled.
Men and women who have served this country in the military deserve the best health care possible. While I have no doubt that the overwhelming majority doctors, nurses, surgeons and pharmacists in the VA health system do their utmost to ensure this, the causes of diagnostic failures and inadequate treatment like Morgan experienced must be identified and corrected. Any health care provider found to have been negligent or otherwise at fault also needs to be held liable.
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