The widow of a 69-year-old veteran who died in 2017 after the VA negligently delayed diagnosis of his tongue cancer for about 20 months, during which time the cancer spread and became terminal, will receive $2 million from the federal government in settlement of her wrongful death lawsuit. The settlement was reached on March 20, 2019 but the settlement funds were not released until July 3, 2019.
A February 2014 x-ray taken at the VA Connecticut Healthcare System location in West Haven, Connecticut reportedly showed a mass at the base of the man’s tongue. A follow-up CT scan in April 2014 revealed two conglomerates of lymph nodes on the left side and slight asymmetric fullness seen in the oropharyngeal outline of the left side as well as the left tonsillar fossa, which the radiologist reported that a small mass lesion cannot be excluded and recommended that direct inspection should be performed to exclude underlying malignancy.
A May 2014 consult with a VA otolaryngologist resulted in the man being diagnosed as having a resolved left sumbandibular sialedinitis. In January 2015, the man visited his primary care physician at the VA, complaining of a sore throat, swollen glands, and hearing loss, for which he was prescibed new hearing aides and an antibiotic.
From September 2015 to October 2015, various medical providers at the VA treated the man for left-sided neck and ear pain, ear canal discharge and swelling, neck swelling, left-sided neck fullness, hearing loss, a sore throat and a left submandibular mass, among other symptoms.
On October 26, 2015, the man underwent a surgical procedure at a non-VA hospital, which revealed a tumor at the left base of his tongue. Surgical pathology revealed papillary squamous cell carcinoma. Thereafter, additional testing at a non-VA hospital revealed metastatic carcinoma involving multiple lymph nodes, which required multiple extensive surgeries under general anesthesia, chemotherapy, radiation, medications, and other treatment.
The VA medical malpractice lawsuit alleged, in part: “These surgeries and treatments left the Plaintiff permanently and severely disabled, disfigured and scarred, all to his physical pain and mental humiliation and embarrassment until his death. As a further result, the Plaintiff’s decedent’s pre-existing anxiety and depression were severely exacerbated until his death. As a further result, the Plaintiff’s decedent largely required a feeding tube until his death to receive nutrition since the surgical resection of the tumor and was largely unable to consume food orally. These physical and mental injuries resulted in the Plaintiff’s decedent’s untimely death.”
If you or a loved one suffered serious injury or death as a result of medical care received through the VA (or necessary medical care that was delayed or never provided by the VA), you should promptly consult with a medical malpractice attorney in your U.S. state who handles medical malpractice claims against the VA, who may investigate your VA medical malpractice claim for you and guide you and represent you with regard to complying with the requirements regarding bringing claims against the VA for medical negligence.
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