The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has paid out approximately $845 million for medical malpractice cases from 2003 to 2013, a recent analysis revealed.
The high point in payouts came in 2012, when the VA settled 454 cases totaling $98.3 million in settlements. The highest number of payouts in a year, 462, occurred in 2008.
How does this compare to the private sector? The VA pays out on about 25% of malpractice claims vs. 20% in private health systems, according to a New England Journal of Medicine study.
During the same ten-year period, the VA has faced increasing scrutiny for paying bonuses and raises to healthcare practitioners who allegedly provide substandard care. A government accountability study from July revealed that in 2011, the VA gave $160 million in bonuses and performance awards to providers without linking the extra pay with better performance.
In response, VA officials have pointed out that they manage one of the country’s largest medical networks and receive a relatively low number of claims. In 2012 for example, the VA treated 6.3 million veterans and only 1,544 claims were filed.