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Saturday, December 1, 2012

Veterans Hospitals and Medical Malpractice Actions

Veterans Hospitals and Medical Malpractice Actions

As a result of recent directives, Veterans Administration hospitals now are surveyed and accredited by the Joint Commission (formerly known as the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations). The Joint Commission accredits all 152 VA medical facilities in the United States and has been doing so for at least 6 years.

This means that these hospitals can be held accountable to the hospital accreditation standards in the same fashion as civilian health care facilities. Standards regarding such things as corporate responsibilities for the delivery of care, physician credentialing procedures, and policy implementation, can be applied to the VA hospitals in medical malpractice actions. The hospitals are surveyed in the same manner as their civilian counterparts and summaries of their accreditation status are available online in the Joint Commission website.

For attorneys, this means that much of the typical analysis they conduct regarding malpractice actions and accreditation can be utilized in cases that occur in VA medical facilities. Experts in hospital administration can assist in the analysis and the same standards as used in civilian hospitals will apply here as well. The VA facilities use the same accreditation manual and follow the same processes.

The VA has also issued a directive in 2007 that they will comply with the intent of the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA). This means, again, that the same standards that apply to civilian hospital emergency departments are followed by the VA hospitals. Patients must be evaluated and stabilized in the emergency department prior to being discharged. Violations of this regulation can be considered in evaluating the VA hospitals cases.

The VA medical facilities are able to be held to the same standards as all other hospitals regarding accreditation and EMTALA. This is important information for attorneys in their consideration of medical malpractice actions in these hospitals.

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This medical malpractice article was written by an expert witness working with American Medical Experts, LLC (AME). AME is the nation’s leading source of medical experts for case review and testimony; AME also offers the lowest flat rate fees on Complete Case Reviews ($695) and Expert Witness Reports ($995). For more information, call 888-678-EXPERTS (888-678-3973) or visit