April 30, 2017
Steven Harold Cooper received an award for $2.5 million dollars after U.S. Magistrate Judge Michelle Burns concluded that the substandard care Cooper received at the Carl T. Hayden VA Medical Center led to his stage-IV prostate cancer, unnecessary physical and mental suffering and loss of dignity and life satisfaction. Cooper, now 46 years old, has a life expectancy of five years.
Cooper believes that his terminal cancer could have been prevented or possibly even cured if he were properly diagnosed and given follow-up testing from the nurse practitioner who initially examined him at the VA hospital in 2011. Because of the abnormalities discovered, particularly the asymmetric quality of Cooper’s prostate, standard protocol would have been a referral to a urologist for a cancer screening.
Instead, 11 months later, Cooper discovered he had stage-IV prostate cancer from a diagnosis made by a VA doctor. Cooper immediately pursued treatment from a private doctor, which included surgeries and therapies that left Cooper unable to work and incapable of enjoying a full life. Cooper, who was honorably discharged from the Army in 2007 after serving for nearly 18 years, commented outside of court that it was not about the money but about receiving a verdict that would reveal the insufficient level of care the Phoenix VA offers.
The VA Hospital was embroiled in a scandal in 2014 when informers revealed that veterans on undisclosed waiting lists faced scheduling deferrals of up to a year. Further investigation showed that as many as 40 veterans died while waiting to receive treatment from the Phoenix facility. Because of the scandal, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned from office, and legislation was put in place to refund and reform the Veterans Health Administration.
According to the VA legal team, the nurse practitioner did not discover any signs of cancer in Cooper’s initial checkup nor did Cooper disclose any information concerning urinary problems. The defense lawyers also stated that there was no way to prove whether Cooper’s cancer was restricted to his prostate at the time of his original appointment in 2011.
If you have received faulty or delayed medical treatment that led to permanent damage, you might be entitled to compensation. Our legal firm can provide you with additional information about your rights.