January 29, 2015 — The family of a man who died of melanoma has been awarded $900,000 by the Veterans Affairs (VA) hospital to settle allegations of malpractice due to treatment delays.
The settlement was awarded to the family of Cliff Douglas, an Army veteran who served after the Vietnam War. He was living in Issaquah, Washington, and taking a medication that increased his risk of cancer.
When he was diagnosed with melanoma in May 2011, the scheduler at the VA forgot to make an appointment to refer him for surgery at the University of Washington. Months later, as the cancer continued to spread, Douglas was eventually forced to make his own appointment. He died of melanoma in 2012.
According to the News Tribune, it is VA Puget Sound’s largest-ever payout for a malpractice claim involving a wrongful death.
VA Puget Sound has faced dozens of malpractice lawsuits in the last decade. KIRO TV reports that $15 million has been paid out since 2001, including settlements for 16 wrongful deaths and 33 major injuries that were preventable.
Another settlement was recently paid out to the family of Stephen Vincler, a 63 year-old man who served as a Marine in Vietnam. After a routine surgery, his family said he was curled up suffering from excruciating pain. They specifically asked if internal bleeding could be to blame, but their suggestions were ignored. Vincler died from gastric bleeding. His family was awarded $800,000 to settle their malpractice lawsuit.