Florida Governor Rick Scott has announced his plans to sue the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs in an effort to allow state regulators to inspect the troubled agency’s Florida facilities. The suit is the latest news in ongoing claims of delayed treatment, negligence and poor patient safety at the nation’s VA hospitals.
Gov. Scott has directed the state’s Agency for Health Care Administration to file the lawsuit in a Tampa federal court as a means of “righting the wrongs experienced by Florida’s veterans at the hands of the federal V.A. that has repeatedly failed to comply with minimum standards of patient safety.” Several plaintiffs involved in the suit say they have been deprived of fundamental rights regarding standards of care guaranteed by the VA’s own patient rights regulations and equal protection guarantees of the Fifth Amendment.
At least 19 veterans have died because of delays in simple medical screenings, such as colonoscopes, at VA hospitals and clinics across the country, according to several news investigations. After initial news reports were published, dozens of other families and patients came forward to report similar medical neglect and delayed care. In Arizona, 1,700 patients seeking care at the Phoenix VA hospital were put on unofficial waiting lists and subjected to delays that lasted as many as 115 days. Phoenix VA officials are accused of shredding evidence to conceal the number of veterans waiting for care.
Other family members said their loved ones finally received appointments years after they were deceased. In a California case, a patient was offered a doctor’s visit two years after he died of brain cancer.
The Veterans Health Administration has stated that is conducting a national review of the allegations and findings across its health system. A review of the entire military health system by the Pentagon is ongoing.