More than 500 military veterans died because of serious mistakes at Veterans Affairs hospitals across the country between 2010 and 2014, VA records show.
There were a total of 1,452 “institutional disclosures of adverse events” between fiscal years 2010 and 2014, 526 of which resulted in patient deaths, according to VA data obtained by the Washington Free Beacon through a Freedom of Information Act request.
According to the Veterans Health Administration, such disclosures are required when “an adverse event has occurred during the patient’s care that resulted in or is reasonably expected to result in death or serious injury.”
Specifically, adverse events are defined by the department as “untoward incidents, diagnostic or therapeutic misadventures, iatrogenic injuries, or other occurrences of harm or potential harm directly associated with care or services provided” by the VA.
The 1,452 disclosures represent a miniscule portion of the hundreds of thousands of patients who are treated annually at VA hospitals, but they reveal for the first time a fuller picture of errors and lapses in medical coverage that affect veterans across the country.
The disclosures include feeding tubes being placed in patients’ lungs, patients being sent home with undiagnosed rib and shoulder fractures, and in one case extracting the wrong tooth from a patient.
But buried among the more common mistakes that occur in even the best hospitals—incorrect dosages, surgical equipment accidentally left in patients’ bodies—are reports of the fatal delays in cancer diagnoses and follow-up treatments that would later lead to a national scandal and the resignation of the VA Secretary.