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New Mexico VA sued for lack of emergency care

The Albuquerque Veterans Affairs hospital faces a lawsuit after a Vietnam veteran collapsed and died in the hospital cafeteria in June. The man's family is suing the Department of Veterans Affairs and the facility for negligence and medical malpractice since the staff could not move the veteran to the nearby Emergency Room. The family's lawyer filed a federal tort claim on July 30.

The veteran is survived by a wife and two sons. The wife stated that she wishes to sue in order to bring about justice and ensure that this same type of incident does not happen to others. She claims that the hospital caused the man's death by not treating his collapse as an emergency and by failing to give him emergency aid. New Mexico VA Health Care System policy allegedly did not mandate emergency attention but did require CPR and a 911 call.

Sloan Gibson, the acting VA secretary, reportedly told the family that the VA is not at fault, but an autopsy has yet to determine the cause of death. The family seeks $11 million in damages.

Hospital care is necessary and life-saving in many situations, but hospital errors can result in additional and unnecessary suffering or death for a patient. When neglect or malpractice occurs at a medical facility, one may be able to seek compensation for expenses and pain and suffering.

There are many reasons hospital negligence could occur. Understaffing, for example, could mean that nurses are less qualified or that the hospital personnel has to work more hours than allowed in order to meet demand. Additionally, improper management could lead to paperwork mistakes or a drop in the quality of patient care. A hospital could also try to cut corners because of inadequate funding. Evidence for any type of hospital neglect might make a hospital liable for damages.

Source: KOAT Albuquerque, "Veteran's family sues Albuquerque VA in cafeteria death case ", Kirsten Swanson, July 30, 2014

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