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Veteran Awarded $21 Million After Being ‘Medically Abandoned’ By VA

A veteran caught in a nightmare health scenario has finally received justice in the form of a $21.5 million dollar payout from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Damages for pain and suffering amount to $8.2 million of the award. The rest, $13.4 million dollars, is being allocated to medical care, based on a ruling handed down by U.S. District Judge Landya McCafferty.

What’s significant about this award is that it’s the highest, successful personal damage claim in New Hampshire’s history. The trouble began in 2010 when Michael Farley, a 60-year-old Navy veteran, started reporting a bout of blindness and splitting headaches.

Realizing that the symptoms were likely indicative of a more serious condition, Farley checked himself into a local VA hospital for medical testing.

The VA confirmed that he suffered a stroke, but the doctors failed to adhere to any sort of reasonable standard of care. They prescribed him the incorrect mediation to take, and according to one of the expert witnesses in the case, Farley was “medically abandoned.” No cardiologists or neurologists were consulted. Farley took his aspirins and went about his business, revisiting the VA a month later for a routine checkup. No one noted that he had previously suffered a stroke.

The next day, Farley was hit by a second, massive stroke, which left him almost completely unable to move, despite being fully conscious of the pain. Farley was found unresponsive. Doctors figured he was in a coma.

“Mr. Farley’s adult children did not believe he was in a coma; they thought that he was moving his eyes in an effort to communicate with them,” Judge McCafferty wrote in the decision. “The caregivers assured them that they were wrong and that his eye movement was merely a symptom of his comatose state.”

But Farley was fully lucid and was traumatized at having to listen to caregivers discuss possible life termination scenarios.

To this day, Farley remains in “locked-in syndrome.” He is almost completely paralyzed, with the exception of slight eye and head movements. Judge McCafferty determined that had the VA acted appropriately, locked-in syndrome could have been avoided.

The court found that two of the doctors committed medical malpractice.

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