Government Healthcare in Inaction: VA Causes Needless Deaths


Time is precious for cancer patients. A needless delay in care can be a death sentence. This is a familiar issue for those forced to rely on the government for healthcare:

Barry Coates knows he will die soon and thus become another preventable patient death resulting from botched care at a Department of Veterans Affairs hospital.

In November 2010, Coates sought treatment for severe abdominal pain and rectal bleeding at a VA hospital in Hartsville, S.C.

The doctor recommended a colonoscopy to determine if his suffering resulted from early stages of colorectal cancer.

For more than a year, Coates faced delay after delay, churning through one doctor after another until finally the routine medical test was performed in December 2011.

It showed he had advanced colorectal cancer, which could have been treated more effectively if had been detected that first day.

Now, the 44-year-old Army veteran is forced to use a colostomy bag and catheter, lamenting that he is unable to play with his grandchildren as men his age should be able to do.

At least he is still alive. He won’t be for long. Only when treated promptly is colon cancer likely to be cured.

His tragedy is emblematic of a much broader problem, as even the VA admits in a report released this week:

It shows 23 patients died from gastrointestinal cancers linked to delays in care, including routine colonoscopies and other procedures that would detect the early onset of the disease.

Another 53 cancer patients have been given “institutional disclosures,” alerts that problem with their care at veterans’ hospitals may have contributed to their conditions.

The VA did not report preventable patient deaths from other medical conditions. Nor did it say when the 23 patients died.

The report only confesses to the tip of the iceberg.

Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., chairman of the [House Committee on Veterans Affairs], said the deaths probably occurred between 2010 and 2012, but that he cannot get a clear answer from the agency.

The term for this under Obamunism is transparency.

The figures provided by VA are a low estimate of the number of veterans who have died because of delayed or inadequate care, Miller said.

At least 18 deaths from other causes have been identified in recent years by the agency’s inspector general and media reports.

Miller also said staff investigators at the Veterans’ Committee have found evidence that there may be as many as 40 patient deaths due to delayed care at the VA hospital in Phoenix alone.

Total casualty numbers could be far worse:

The Government Accountability Office testified the [Veterans Health Administration’s] consult numbers were unreliable and as many as two million consults nationwide that should have happened in 90 days, didn’t.

At a congressional hearing yesterday, Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN) characterized the situation as “a bureaucracy that is out of control.”

If that sounds familiar, you could be thinking of the federal government’s war of conquest against the medical industry, i.e., ObamaCare. When it leads to the collapse of private health insurance and the imposition of socialized medicine as planned, vets won’t be the only ones waiting over a year for urgent procedures.

On a tip from Don M. Cross-posted at Moonbattery.

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