Victims' Rights Caucus

Speeches

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Madam Speaker, as dangerous to the public's health and well-being as government-run health care is in Europe and Canada, we have our own American example that has some very serious problems. Last month there was a surprise inspection at Veterans Affairs clinics in the United States. The surprise inspections exposed that fewer than half of those clinics followed proper standards for colonoscopies.

Some mistakes could have exposed veterans to HIV and other diseases. Let me repeat: Less than half followed proper medical standards for colonoscopies.

Since February, the VA has informed 10,000 veterans in three States to get retested. More than 50 patients tested positive for infections, including some with HIV. But that's just the beginning of the medical malpractice by the VA.

VA patients with prostate cancer were put through their own particular set of horrors. In Philadelphia, a patient received a common surgical procedure where a doctor implants dozens of radioactive seeds to attack the cancer.

But the doctor's aim was more than a little off. Most of the radioactive seeds, 40 of them to be exact, ended up in the patient's healthy bladder instead of the prostate. The mistake was a serious one, and under Federal rules it was investigated by the bureaucrat regulators. The regulators allowed the doctor to rewrite his surgical plan to make his mistake just disappear.

In the private sector, somebody would have been held accountable for this negligence, but not with government-run health care VA style. They cover up their errors.

The patient had to undergo a second radiation implant. This time the unintended dose ended up in his rectum. Once again, more negligence. Two years later in 2005, the same doctor made the same mistake, putting more than half of the radioactive seeds in the wrong organ, and again the bureaucrat regulators did not object when he once again rewrote his surgical plan to cover up his mistake.

Had the bureaucrat regulators actually done their jobs, they would have uncovered what the media calls a rogue cancer unit. This one Philadelphia VA hospital, botched 92 of 116 treatments over 6 years, then covered it up.

Let me repeat, Madam Speaker, the VA government health care hospital in Philadelphia medically erred in 92 of 116 cancer treatments. The medical team continued to perform these radiation implants, even though for over a year the equipment that measured whether or not the patient had received proper radiation dosage was broken. Records proved that the radiation safety committee at the veterans hospital knew of this problem but took no action.

In Philadelphia, 57 of the implants delivered too little radiation to the prostate, either because the seeds were planted in the wrong organ or were not distributed properly inside the prostate. Thirty-five other cases involve overdoses to other parts of the body. An unspecified number of patients were both underdosed in the prostate and overdosed somewhere else in their body. This is a horrible way to treat America's veterans.

Another patient, 21-year veteran of the Air Force, had to remain in bed 6 months with pain so severe he couldn't even stand. He lost his job as a pastor at a local church and all of his income, thanks again to the incompetence of the Veterans Administration.

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