Among the other major healthcare problems this country faces, we should include medical malpractice. It is especially disturbing to find that veterans are often offered less efficient and less effective care than most civilians. A horrifying example of medical ineptitude was uncovered at the VA Northern Indiana Health Care System. In this case, 44 veterans were seriously injured and more than a hundred were put in harm’s way.
The Class-Action Lawsuit
Thirteen of the veterans from Indiana all suffered harm due to botched and sometimes unnecessary podiatric surgeries performed by the same podiatrist. Not only that, but according to court documents many of the surgeries were unnecessary. To make matters even worse, the patients later found out that the cases of podiatric malpractice were known about by various employees at the VA but were covered up.
The original complaint was filed by a 70-year-old Vietnam veteran, who had undergone foot surgery in 2012. This patient reported that the doctor in question had told him that he had “a blown tendon that needed to be removed and he was going to replace it with a new one.”
Six years later, in 2018, the same Vietnam veteran was called into the VA office and informed by hospital administrators that the surgery performed by the podiatrist had been unnecessary and that therapy would have corrected the problem. The victimized patient describes himself as becoming “emotional” when he was shown MRIs of his ankle which showed that he did not originally have tendon damage. The incompetent (or malicious!) podiatrist had cut the tendon, creating the tendon damage, then repaired it and sutured the wound closed.
Such medical misconduct is awful to hear or read about, but much more horrifying to endure, especially at the hands of a military doctor when you have been serving your country. As another veteran mistreated by the same podiatrist later stated, “…when you get out of the service you expect to be taken care of.” According to the attorney who eventually took the case, once an investigation into the doctor’s practices began, more and more of his botched surgeries came to light.
He reports that “A lot of the surgeries were unnecessary and were performed improperly. There were some very inappropriate medical procedures done on some patients.” He also states that the investigation clearly shows that the VA was aware of this doctor’s widespread malpractice, but it was many years before the patients were informed that they had been wronged.
It wasn’t until 2018 that letters from the VA went out to more than a 100 veterans, informing them of this dreadful situation. Although VA administrators instructed them to take legal action, these mistreated veterans soon learned that their claims would be denied because they were beyond the 2-year statute of limitations. This a a good reason for veterans and anyone else who is considering filing a podiatric malpractice or other type of medical malpractice lawsuit should consult promptly with a capable medical malpractice attorney, preferably one specializing in the relevant medical specialty.
Eventually, a class-action complaint was filed on behalf of the 13 veterans and, following a thorough review, the offending doctor was terminated by the VA facility and reported to the Indiana Board of Podiatry.