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Veteran misdiagnosed, wrongly accused of addiction

For people in New Jersey, going to the hospital can be a time for stress and uncertainty. In most cases, however, that is because a patient is concerned about the outcomes of their medical procedures, not because the hospital itself could be the cause of new problems. For one Navy veteran who went to a VA hospital, however, his attempt to seek diagnosis and treatment for abdominal pain was met with admonitions to seek help for a cocaine addiction that he did not have.

In reality, the man's urine sample was switched with another patient's at the Dorn VA Medical Center in Columbia, South Carolina. When he spoke with medical staff, he was given pamphlets about addiction and no medical treatment. He was told that his pain was caused by excessive cocaine use and other illegal drugs. The 47-year-old man returned to another hospital's emergency room six days later with even more severe pain; there, he was diagnosed with gallstones and rushed into emergency surgery.

The man is now pursuing a lawsuit against the Department of Veterans Affairs for medical malpractice based on the VA hospital's negligence. He alleges that in both the mix-up with his urine test and in failing to perform a thorough physical examination in regards to his symptoms, the hospital failed to uphold its duty to care for him as a patient. As a result, the man claims, his medical condition worsened, leading to significant injury and costly emergency treatment.

Hospitals have a responsibility to provide an appropriate standard of care for their patients. When they fail to do so and that failure leads to harm for patients, they may be held accountable for hospital negligence, a form of medical malpractice. People who have suffered mistreatment at a hospital may speak with a malpractice attorney about the details of their case and discuss the potential for a claim against the medical center.

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