Ch. 2 investigation finds hundreds of VA patient deaths linked to malpractice



ATLANTA - A Channel 2 Action News investigation has uncovered hundreds of patient deaths linked to medical mistakes at VA hospitals across the country.
For more than a year Channel 2 Action News dug through documents, developed sources, and exposed mismanagement, preventable deaths and other problems at the Atlanta VA hospital.
Disturbing new findings from the Atlanta VA hospital and around the country come the night before the VA secretary will be hauled in front of Congress.
"This is a national crisis and a national disgrace," said Rep. David Scott, D-Ga. "The buck stops here, man."
Strong reaction from Scott after we clued him in on a months-long Channel 2 Action News investigation into medical malpractice in facilities operated by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Channel 2 investigative reporter Aaron Diamant spent time breaking down a giant VA database he got through a Freedom of Information Act request.
Diamant discovered nearly 1,200 claims, from 2000 through 2012, that blamed medical mistakes for patient deaths at VA facilities nationwide, including 20 at the Atlanta VA Hospital.
"Each number is a human life, and each life, every human life is important," said Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga.
Still, Diamant found thousands more cases, coast to coast, claiming bad care caused patients harm.
Since 2000, the VA has shelled out more than $900,000 in taxpayer money to settle those claims or pay judgments.
Channel 2 Action News brought our findings to national government watchdog Daniel Epstein with Cause of Action.
"That not only signals an enormous waste of taxpayer dollars and a mentality and a culture at the top that is totally inappropriate, but it also shows that they're not really concerned about the problem," Epstein said.
On Thursday, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki will appear before Isakson and the Senate's veteran’s affairs committee in Washington to answer questions about treatment delays and preventable deaths within the VA system.
"We need to make sure we hold the people at the top accountable," Isakson said.
Our investigations have already led to previous congressional hearings into VA mismanagement and patient deaths. 
Channel 2 Action News will have a crew inside the hearing room in Washington, D.C., Thursday for Secretary Shinseki’s accountability session with the Senate committee.

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