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Published On: Wed, Mar 1st, 2017

Veteran’s Medical Malpractice Case Against VA Begins

Opening statements in a dying Arizona veteran’s medical malpractice case began on Monday morning. The veteran, Steven Cooper, is suing the Carl T. Hayden VA Medical Center and the Veterans Health Administration for $50 million.

Steven Cooper claims he tried to get an appointment at the VAMC for more than a year. When he finally did secure an appointment, he did not receive proper care, the veteran alleges. Cooper, who served almost 18 years in the U.S. Army, is now dying of prostate cancer.

Cooper’s personal injury complaint was filed by his lawyers in October 2015.

In court documents, Cooper “was repeatedly denied access to medical care at the VAMC, then provided with negligent medical care resulting in the delayed diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer.”

gavel judge court case ruling

photo by Okan Caliskan via Pixabay

The veteran was honorably discharged in 2007.

The complaint stated that Cooper developed health problems after being honorably discharged, and repeatedly contacted the VAMC to secure an appointment for evaluation.

“Because of various and systemic problems with the VA system, the VAMC continuously denied access to healthcare,” the complaint read. When Cooper did secure an appointment, the complaint said, it would be for months later. The VAMC would then cancel the appointment, and force him to attempt to reschedule.

Cooper claims that when he finally saw a practitioner in December 2011, an abnormality in his prostate was discovered. Despite the findings, no additional testing was ordered and no follow-up was scheduled. Cooper was not referred to a specialist.

The complaint says the practitioner told Cooper, “there was nothing he could or should do about his abnormal prostate exam results.”

After a year of attempting to get care for his worsening condition, Cooper was formally diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer in December 2012. Cooper was informed that his condition was incurable and terminal, and was advised to seek hospice care.

Cooper saw a private physician after receiving his diagnosis and underwent a “radical surgical procedure” that left him with “debilitating problems” and other permanent injuries.

The complaint alleges that Cooper’s disease would have been curable if the VAMC had “properly seen, evaluated, diagnosed and treated” him.

The case is expected to run for at least a week.

Cooper’s case is not an anomaly. In 2014, news broke of a nationwide scandal regarding long hospital wait times for veterans, as dozens of veterans died while waiting for care.

The VAMC has 3,300 employees and operates clinics throughout Arizona.

Author: Jacob Maslow

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