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Patient wins claim against Dorn VA Hospital

Delays with medical testing and diagnosis can lead to preventable but serious and fatal diseases and legal liability. For nine veterans, diagnostic testing delays at the Williams Jennings Bryan Dorn Veterans Medical Center in Columbia, South Carolina led to a medical malpractice suit and further exposed unacceptable testing backlogs at the facility.

A 44-year-old veteran from McBee suffered abdominal pain and a doctor said that he may need a colonoscopy in 2011. This procedure was delayed for approximately one year although the patient was suffering intense pain which was known to the VA physician. Ultimately, the patient was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer that spread to his liver and lungs. A timely colonoscopy may have revealed the tumor growing in this patient before his condition worsened.

This patient, and eight other similarly-situated patients, filed a successful tort claim against the VA. The VA admitted some fault by admitting that it should have made an earlier consultation. However, it did not stipulate that its delay harmed the patient's quality of life.

Congressman Joe Wilson has received concerns from his constituents on a weekly basis since 2009. According to Congressman James Clyburn, the Dorn VA reported that the specific backlog that precipitated these lawsuits took place in 2011 and that it resolved the backlog in 2012.

Delayed diagnosis and consultation is a doctor error and, as these suits vividly demonstrate, can have potentially fatal consequences for patients and harm their quality of life. Victims of this type of malpractice and surgical error and their families have the right to seek compensation for their losses. Advice should be promptly sought to determine liability and protect patients. Time periods limit when a civil lawsuit may be filed.

Source: WIS TV, "Veteran with colon cancer grateful Dorn VA claimed some responsibility," Jennifer Emert, Nov. 22, 2013

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