Taxpayers have shelled out $871 million in medical malpractice settlements over the last decade to make up for mistakes by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), while the employees who created the liability often also continued to collect checks.
Settlement payments have gone up sharply in recent years, totaling $230 million since 2014, with this year by far the most expensive on record even before it closes.
The VA has made 4,353 malpractice settlements since 2006, for an average award of $200,000. The number of cases per year has risen from 322 in 2006 to 541 last year. Eight cases have involved settlements of $1 million or more.
The settlements allow the government to avoid admitting guilt, which often bolsters VA claims that its employees did nothing wrong, even when the department’s 770 in-house lawyers apparently think there’d be enough evidence in court to the contrary.