Congressional investigation launched into Memphis VA Medical Center

Published: Nov. 20, 2013 at 8:35 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 21, 2013 at 4:21 AM CST
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Lisa Coleman's father, Layman, was one of three patients who died.
Lisa Coleman's father, Layman, was one of three patients who died.

(WMC-TV) - A U.S. House representative launched a congressional investigation into the Memphis VA Medical Center after allegations of inadequate care for three patients who died.

This follows a report from the Office of Inspector General in October, which documented substandard care leading to the deaths. The OIG began its investigation after multiple complaints.

The first complaint was filed when a patient died after he or she took medication, to which he or she had a known drug allergy. Another patient died after being administered multiple sedation drugs; he or she was not monitored properly after given the drugs. A third patient died after delays in getting treatment for very high blood pressure, which caused bleeding on the brain.

U.S. Representative Jeff Miller said in a letter Wednesday to the Veterans' Affairs secretary that he is requesting more information for an oversight investigation by the Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

"VA owes the families affected by these tragic preventable veteran deaths a full explanation of what went wrong, the steps the department is taking to prevent future lapses in care and how it is holding accountable those who let patients fall through the cracks," Miller wrote. Read the full letter here.

The OIG's report called for the VA Medical Center to confer with regional counsel for possible disclosure to the surviving family members of victims, but one family says they have not heard from the VA since the night their father died at the facility.

Lisa Coleman's father, Layman, was one of three patients who died.

"I'm excited and elated. I'm glad because I want them to find out the truth the reason my father passed," she said in response to the Congressional investigation. "Something needs to be done."

Coleman said they were initially told their father died from a blood clot in his lungs, but the findings in the OIG report shows he in fact was "noted to have had an extremely elevated blood pressure" hours before he died.

The VA Responded with the following statement:

"The Memphis VA Medical Center is committed to providing the best quality, safe and effective health care our Veterans have earned and deserve. Memphis VA takes this very seriously. We have taken action to address and correct issues outlined in the Inspector General report, and continue to improve the care provided in our Emergency Department."

You can read U.S. Representative Jeff Miller's full letter here.

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