VA Medical Center refused care to dying veteran due to failure to confirm military service
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - The Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General released a report detailing how staff at the Malcom Randall VA Medical Center refused care to a dying veteran because they could not confirm the military service record. The patient was then taken to UF Health Shands where the patient died.
The inspector general report described an incident in the summer of 2020 when a patient, who was 60 years old, was transported by Alachua County Fire Rescue EMT units to the VA Medical Center. The patient was unconscious and likely in need of intubation.
Staff requested patient information from the EMT units to confirm his veteran status but they could not get additional details from the unconscious patient. An argument between nurses and EMTs ensued, ending with the patient being taken to UF Health Shands.
10 hours later the patient died of septic shock, heart failure, pneumonia, and kidney inflammation at Shands according to the death certificate.
Months before the incident, the patient was treated for chronic heart failure at the VA Medical Center where he would later be denied.
The inspector determined nurses at the VA failed to provide emergency care to the patient despite VA policy requiring care.
“Emergency departments ‘must never turn away an ambulatory patient or a patient who has arrived by ambulance; a medical screening exam must always be performed,’” stated the inspector general.
The nurses also failed to recognize how critical the condition of the patient was according to the inspector general, even after being informed by EMTs.
The inspector general found the Facility Director failed to effectively address the patient incident including the decision not to terminate the nurses involved in the incident.
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