VA hospitals have the important role of serving United States veterans’ medical needs. As a federal government program, it’s subject to different laws, rules, and regulations than private hospitals or surgical centers. In an unfortunate news report, there are widespread allegations of medical malpractice, involving physicians from VA hospitals. The report notes that physicians who commit malpractice or fall beneath the standard of care are reassigned or asked to resign, and no report is allegedly made on their medical record.The news report revolves around one doctor in particular who allegedly drilled the wrong screws into one patient’s ankles, incorrectly severed another patient’s tendon, and performed unnecessary surgeries on veterans. Deposition testimony from the VA hospital revealed that he was considered a “dangerous surgeon” by the hospital surgery chief. However, the VA allegedly did not terminate his employment with the VA or report him to a national database or licensing board. Instead, the doctor was allowed to resign and establish a private practice in New York.
New York hospital malpractice claims against VA hospitals are treated differently from claims for malpractice against private companies. Instead, federal law governs the procedures for filing claims against the United States government. The federal tort claims act disclaims governmental immunity and sets forth the procedures for patients to recover compensation for negligent medical acts. Some of the key distinctions from non-governmental malpractice claims include a two-year statute of limitations for claims, all claims being processed through federal court, and the claimant being required to file a federal tort claims act form before any case can proceed. Sometimes there are circumstances in which there are providers who are not employees of the VA who may have also provided negligent care. In that situation, people could have concurrent state and federal actions.