October 14, 2014 — Arkansas Business reports that a federal judge has awarded $725,000 to a 75 year-old veteran who was permanently injured during a botched surgery at a Veterans Affairs (VA) hospital.
The malpractice lawsuit was filed by Walter Paul Hoover of Webb City, Missouri. He underwent spinal surgery in 2009 after he fell and injured his back. The surgery was performed at John L. McClellan Memorial Veterans Hospital in Little Rock, Arkansas.
According to the complaint, Hoover’s surgeon misplaced screws in his spinal canal, which resulted in “paralysis, primarily on the left, including no quadriceps function, numbness, significantly increased pain.”
Although he underwent a second surgery to fix the placement of the screws, the damage was already done. He has been forced to undergo multiple surgeries and is primarily confined to a wheelchair and suffers from chronic pain.
The lawsuit was filed in 2011 and Hoover originally sought $5 million in damages. Instead, U.S. District Judge James Moody Jr. awarded $725,000 in compensation, including $25,000 to Hoover’s wife for loss of consortium. Attorneys for the VA said their investigation did not disclose any negligent acts or omissions by employees of the hospital.
In the last decade, VA medical malpractice payments have increased substantially, according to Bloomberg. In 2012, malpractice payments rose about 28% from $72 million in 2011.
Since 2001, taxpayers have spent at least $700 million to resolve thousands of claims filed against the agency. In one case, a soldier was awarded $17.5 million for permanent disability he suffered after a routine tooth-extraction went awry.