[Ed. – A microcosm of life under single payer.]
A veteran with diabetes and poor circulation checked into the Memphis VA Medical Center for a scan and possible repair of blood vessels in his right leg last year, but he ended up with a piece of plastic packaging that VA providers had mistakenly embedded in a critical artery.
Doctors didn’t discover the 10 inches of tubing — used by manufacturers to protect catheters during shipping and handling — until the veteran had to have the leg amputated three weeks later.
When they cut into his leg, they found a 3-inch segment, and after the procedure, they found another 7 inches in the amputated limb.
The error is one of a litany of patient safety issues at the Memphis hospital in recent years chronicled in a trove of internal documents obtained by the USA TODAY Network that provide a revealing glimpse of one of the worst of 168 VA hospitals in the country.
The hospital is one of only four on which the VA’s top health official, acting Under Secretary for Health Poonam Alaigh, requested weekly briefings, according to the documents.