Vietnam Veteran Dies After Being Left Unattended at Palo Alto VA Hospital

Lawsuit Follows VA’s Refusal of Responsibility

May 15, 2017

Seventy-two year-old Vietnam War veteran Douglas Ross died on May 5, 2016 from a traumatic head injury he suffered while he was a patient at the Palo Alto Veterans Administrations Hospital. The Palo Alto VA staff knew Mr. Ross was at serious risk of falls and in an extremely feeble condition due the intensive surgery he had recently undergone. Despite that knowledge, the Palo Alto VA propped Mr. Ross in a chair and left him alone for almost an hour. That neglect led to Mr. Ross’s death.

Mr. Ross had gone into cardiac arrest after a surgery and subsequently experienced shock. When the VA Palo Alto left Mr. Ross unattended in a chair, he was on a multiple feeding tubes, his right foot was completely gangrenous from lack of circulation, and he was dependent on the VA Palo Alto’s nurses and doctors for all basic tasks such as standing or eating. Mr. Ross died a week after the fall from his head injury. Mr. Ross’s death certificate indicates the cause of death as a “closed head injury” caused by a “fall, unwitnessed.” Despite acknowledging the fall, the VA inexplicably continues to deny any responsibility.

Niall McCarthy of Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, LLP stated: “Mr. Ross’s unnecessary death was a tragic part of the epidemic of neglect of veterans at VA Hospitals. Veterans should get hazard pay for going to a VA Hospital.”

Emanuel Townsend of Cotchett, Pitre and McCarthy, LLP added: “The Palo Alto VA must be held accountable for its callous treatment of Mr. Ross. Our veterans and their families deserve better.”

View Document(s):