Federal Government Opens Probe into VA Hospital

The federal government opened a probe into a hospital run by the Department of Veteran Affairs. According to the New York Daily News, the federal probe is a response to a veteran’s allegations of neglect, medical malpractice, and elder abuse. The local newspaper describes the experience of Gary Zambito, who served in the armed forces during the Vietnam War. During his military service, Zambito suffered an injury which led to health complications for the next fifty years. While he trusted the VA to look after his care, Zambito describes a nightmare of incompetence and fraud. Zambito says the care provided by the VA was so insufficient that it “nearly killed” him. After suing the government for $4 million, the federal government opened a probe into the nursing home and hospitals for criminal malfeasance.

According to the veteran, he sought help from his local VA hospital on Long Island back in 2015 when he started experiencing “dizzy spells” that would commonly end in blackouts. Zambito says he told doctors that being knocked unconscious in the Vietnam War led to heart problems – specifically, an irregular and rapid heart rate. Despite this knowledge, doctors did not seem interested in drawing the connection between Zambito’s fainting spells and his heart condition. After being told that there was nothing the doctors could do to help him, Zambito spent the next three years simply enduring the dizzy spells and fainting. According to his attorney, the veteran fell and injured himself 18 times over the next 14 months. Finally, he went to a private doctor who prescribed the drug Flecainide Acetate, which eliminated the fainting problem immediately.

“If they had given me that medication 14 months earlier, I would never have had those 18 (fainting spells) and never have suffered my five permanently disabling injuries, which are all service-related because they were caused by the attack on the naval facility,” Zambito told the New York Daily News.

Unable to afford private care, Zambito continued to seek care at his local VA hospital when a cardiology scan showed growths on his kidneys. The doctors at the veteran’s hospital told him they could not operate under general anesthesia because of his heart condition. However, when Zambito arrived the next week for the procedure to remove the cancerous growths he realized that he was scheduled to undergo general anesthesia. “Had this surgery proceeded as scheduled, I would have been placed at risk of life-altering negative consequence, perhaps even death,” he told the newspaper. The doctors told him that they could not remove the tumors using local anesthesia and it would be “impossible” to find a doctor who would perform the procedure without putting their patient to sleep. Unsurprisingly, the veteran found a willing doctor within a few hours at Presbyterian/Weill Cornell. After the entire ordeal, he filed a lawsuit against the Department of Veterans Affairs and says he plans to use other VA hospitals in the state and private doctors, whenever possible.