The Department of Veterans Affairs Seattle headquarters paid out $5.16 million in 14 wrongful death settlements between 2001 and 2011, according to a national accounting of VA claims compiled by the Center for Investigative Reporting.
The revelations come as the department faces intense scrutiny from members of Congress over the number of preventable deaths at VA facilities. The House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs has scheduled a hearing on preventable deaths for April 9.
In September, the committee held a hearing to examine patient deaths at VA hospitals in Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Dallas and Jackson, Miss.
At the hearing, lawmakers accused the agency of failing to discipline officials responsible for unnecessary deaths, pointing out that it has instead provided performance bonuses to these executives.
For example, after an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease at the agency’s hospital in Pittsburgh left six veterans dead and at least 21 ill, the VA regional director, Michael Moreland, received a nearly $63,000 bonus.
The incidents that led to payouts from the VA Puget Sound included:
- A June 2009 payment of $700,000 to settle a lawsuit regarding the improper management of a psychiatric patient.
- A November 2010 payment of $500,000 to settle a lawsuit regarding a delay in care.
- And, an August 2007 payment of $400,000 to settle a claim regarding a patient monitoring problem.