Veteran Awarded $2.5M in Medical Malpractice Suit Against Arizona VA
By Sandra Dalton, Staff Writer
On March 6, 2017, a federal judge ordered the Veteran’s Administration to pay $2.5 million to Army veteran Steven Cooper for delayed diagnosis of cancer. When Cooper was finally diagnosed, he had stage-IV prostate cancer. His cancer is terminal and he has been given less than five years to live.
Cooper went to the Carl T. Hayden VA Medical Center in 2011, with abdominal pain. He was examined by a nurse practitioner who found that his prostate was enlarged and asymmetrical, an accepted sign of prostate cancer. The nurse practitioner did not order a PSA test or send Cooper to a urologist, which would have been the accepted standard of care.
Cooper received a diagnosis of stage-IV prostate cancer from a VA doctor, 11 months later. He has an aggressive form of prostate cancer and has endured several surgeries, but is expected to live only about five years. Cooper is 46 years old.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Michelle Burns found that the nurse practitioner breached the standard of care by failing to order the tests and refer Cooper to a urologist.
Judge Burns awarded Cooper $2.5 million. As a result of the delayed diagnosis and the treatments he has had to endure, Cooper has suffered:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental pain and suffering
- Lost earnings
- Loss of dignity
- Loss of enjoyment of life
The Phoenix VA Healthcare System, which includes the Carl T. Hayden VA Medical Center, has been under fire before. In 2014, it was revealed that it was keeping two sets of records to hide prolonged wait times. As many as 40 veterans died while waiting for care or as a result of the long wait times.
Although the scandal did not come up during trial, Cooper said that the lawsuit was not about the money. It was about showing that Phoenix VA delivers substandard care. He added, "And these veterans still to this day, years after they broke the scandal, still can't get access to care at the V-A or the private sector and I will die fight 'til my last breath so these veterans can get access to decent health care."
If you or someone you love has been harmed by medical malpractice, you can learn more about your rights and how you can recover damages for your losses by searching our directory to find a lawyer near you.