VA to Pay Iowa Veteran $550,000 Settlement Over Treatment

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By Debbie Gregory.

The Department of Veterans Affairs has paid a Vietnam veteran $550,000 to settle his allegation that because of a three-year delay in treatment, he suffered life-shortening heart damage.

Air Force veteran John Porter, 68, of Greenfield, Iowa sued the VA in federal court in after he says VA staff overlooked a test result showing his heart was failing.

“After I’m done paying my lawyers and expenses, I’m not going to be rich,” said Porter. “It’s more of a moral victory than the money.”

According to the lawsuit, Porter presented at the emergency room of the Des Moines VA hospital in October 2011 after feeling tightness in his chest. Tests revealed that he might have heart problems. Follow-up test three weeks later showed his heart was functioning at less than half of normal levels, indicating heart failure, but Porter was not advised of the findings, according to the lawsuit.

Porter only discovered the results three years later after seeing doctors at an Arizona VA hospital, where Porter had gone in 2014 after again experiencing severe chest pain. It was only then that the 2011 test results were given to Porter.

Porter’s lawsuit cited a cardiologist at the Des Moines VA who later wrote that the oversight kept Porter from seeing a cardiologist promptly and that because of the three-year delay, “I doubt there will be much progress made” in treating Porter.

Porter said that he didn’t place the blame on the facility, instead pointing to communication breakdowns at the facility.

“The Des Moines VA is full of knowledgeable, caring and competent people,” Porter said.

While the Department of Justice attorneys representing the VA acknowledged the 2011 test and that the test was not acted on, they denied negligence by VA staff.

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