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Investigation into unexpected death of veteran at Roseburg VA


The death of a local veteran at the Roseburg VA Medical Center has sparked an investigation into the medical facility and the veteran's care. The 61-year-old veteran checked into the hospital in June for a routine hernia operation. His daughter called the medical center continuously throughout the day of his operation to check on his condition. She was repeatedly told that her father was doing fine and was in recovery until she got a message that evening. She returned the phone call and was told that her father's condition had deteriorated. He was having a hard time breathing and his blood pressure suddenly dropped.

Shortly later, the veteran's daughter was told by hospital staff that he was being transferred to the PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend in Eugene. She was surprised to learn that instead of being taken by helicopter, he was driven 70 miles to the Eugene hospital. That same evening, his daughter talked to a doctor at Sacred Heart. After confirming her relationship to the patient, the doctor broke the news that he had passed away.

According to the Eugene medical staff, the veteran had gone into cardiac arrest during the ambulance ride to Sacred Heart. He had massive internal bleeding and high levels of potassium in his system. As his family searches for answers, so does the Department of Veterans Affairs. The VA has prompted an internal investigation into the matter. According to documents, a key issue in the veteran's death was the failure of a nurse to recognize internal bleeding after the hernia surgery. Employees at the hospital also reported that the hospital's ventilator failed to work when they tried to help the veteran's breathing.

The investigation of the matter continues and there has been no mention of a potential wrongful death claim. However, the tragic set of events in this matter highlights the importance of Oregon patients and their families to be aware of their legal rights. In cases where medical mistakes prove to be fatal, a victim's loved ones may be able to seek recovery against those responsible through the filing of a Wrongful death claim.

Source: The Oregonian, "Unexpected death of veteran at Roseburg VA hospital sparks investigation," Mike Francis, Aug. 13, 2013

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