VA: 12 Deaths Possible from Misdiagnosis, Case Numbers Increase


The VA town hall meeting has released an update regarding the case review of the former pathologist at the VA.

According to Kelvin Parks, Interim Director of the Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks, the number of veterans who died increased from four to 12 total. It is unclear if the misdiagnosis was the cause of death.

There were 96 more cases than the original 33,806 because the pathologist worked under contract before being hired in October 2005.

The review found that there were 3,007 cases, or 8.8%, that had errors in them. According to Parks, a pathologist should not have an error percentage higher than 0.7%.

There were 22 institutional disclosures, which were errors that were not disclosed to the facility leadership. A total of 76 cases remain to be reviewed.

Parks says that a total of 33,902 cases have been reviewed that the impaired pathologist took part in.

It was found that 27,307, or 80.5%, were found to be correct and there were no changes.

Many people at the meeting Monday say the progress in the case reviews is at least a step in the right direction.

Tim Lybyer said his brother, a navy veteran, was diagnosed with a spot on his liver in 2010.

Medical staff at the VA kept an eye on it. Then in 2011, he was diagnosed with lung cancer, dying just 21 days later.

“I don’t know if he was in contact with this pathologist, I just wondered how it happened. What I’m wondering is, how can they be checking for possible liver cancer and they missed the lung cancer all together? How is it?” Lybyer asked. “How hard are they going to have to dig to get the truth? But once they have the truth, I really believe they are going to make a difference.”

Navy Veteran Kay Kitterman says the significant progress in cases reviews doesn’t going unnoticed.

“I think our new leadership is clearing a path towards open communication so that issues such as the pathologist issues that have come to light can be clearly communicated to leadership,” Kitterman said.

As Lybyer waits for more information, he says he believes the VA is doing everything possible right now.

“I think they’re trying to do their best to unravel things that have happened for the last 25 years or so. You can only peel a layer at a time, but I think they’re going in the right direction. They’re listening to us.”

Parks says if levy is charged with a crime, the charges would come from the U.S. Attorney’s office.

The next update meeting will be held in Missouri, then in Oklahoma, and back here in fayetteville. Those dates and times are yet to be determined.

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