Investigative Journalist, Barry R. Clausen
October 5, 2015
On September 29, 2014 I received a letter from VA’s Susan Will, Deputy General Counsel for Legal Operations Office of the General Counsel 4150 Clement Street, Building 210 San Francisco, CA 94121 (1-800-488-8244) dated September 29, 2014 that in part said, “This office has completed its investigation of the above-referenced matter under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) and it is denied. …….. Our review did not find any negligence or wrongful act or omission on the part of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) employee acting within the scope of his or her employment that resulted in harm to you as a result of treatment provided at the VA Northern California Health Care System.”
What Ms. Will apparently does not understand is the fact that Dr. Digpal Chauhan misdiagnosed my illness causing my death at home which resulted in my having spent weeks in the hospital. Chauhan claimed I had a cold and treated me accordingly when I actually had blood clots in my lungs and heart failure. Chauhan told my wife and I that he was a “lung expert” and a “brain expert” and that I did not have any physical illness but he claimed I had a mental problem.
Four days after Chauhan’s diagnosis I died at home. If it not for my wife giving me CPR, I would just be another dead Veteran as a result of an incompetent VA doctor who currently does not work for the VA as a result of what he did to me. I have two witnesses who have told me he was recently forced to leave the VA on July 19, 2015.
Ms. Will’s resume is most impressive so I do not believe she deliberately lied. However, it is my opinion at least one of her staff is dishonest as there could not have been an honest “investigation” into the actions of Chauhan.
I have spent part of my life as a deputy sheriff connected to many federal law enforcement agencies in three countries, I have also been a private investigator; I have investigated medical malpractice and many cases involving drug dealers. As a former police officer I know what an investigation is and any investigation includes interviewing witnesses. None of my witnesses were interviewed, which included Jana Thomas Ortega a VA nurse with intimate knowledge of Chauhan’s actions who was forced out of the VA as a result.
Ms. Will has been the Deputy General Counsel for Legal Operations, Office of General Counsel, Department of Veterans Affairs since May of 2014. She now supervises 400 attorneys and paralegals in the 20 General Counsel Regions throughout the United States.
Prior to her appointment, Ms. Will was the San Francisco Regional Counsel for 16 years, providing all legal services for the VA facilities located in California, Hawaii, the Pacific Trust Territories, and Manila, the Republic of the Philippines. She had the largest Region in the Office of General Counsel, with 36 attorneys, paralegals, and support staff.
With credentials such as hers one would think Ms. Will would take an honest interest in what the VA is doing to Veterans instead of being dishonest about what some doctors are doing to those that have honorably served our country.
do not want to talk with me on the record about the issue. This includes
David Stockwell (916-843-9058) who was appointed as Director, VA Northern
California Health Care System in October 2013. I did believe that as director
he would listen and do something to help me a disabled Veteran but that
has not happened. Numerous times he has refused to even talk with me except
for one occasion when my wife, my attorney, Dr. Eulie and others were
present. Nothing was resolved at that meeting.
Dr. Phillip J. Eulie the Chief of Staff for the Northern California VA system told me in a legally recorded conversation during the first week of July 2015 in a VA public meeting when I asked him, “When are you going to do something about Chauhan?” The immediate response from Eulie was, “In two weeks you will be very happy, we listened to you regarding your complaint, we investigated the complaint and we have done something about it, you will be very very happy with the results.” A second VA official at Mather substantiated the previous statement.
Immediately following that statement I received an email dated July 2, 2015 from Dr. Jane Addagatla, (Chauhan’s superior) where she said Chauhan was “retiring” his VA position effective July 19, 2015.
Referring to me, VA documents in my possession clearly show that Addagatla, “Personally reviewed the Veteran’s allegations and in my opinion Dr. Chauhan has provided standard care. This is an extremely technical issue and I forwarded the case for peer review – the outcome of which is confidential. The Veteran in question filed a tort claim naming Dr. Chauhan and the VA.” This statement raises the question, who’s review was it that allowed the Tort claim to be dismissed?
There are many great doctors within the VA but arguably in my case, I was treated by what I consider one of the worst. In addition to my situation, there have been two Veterans that died at Mather as a result of an error with "Do Not Resuscitate" (DNR) armbands. One was the death of Ronald Mayo a 65 year old Vietnam Veteran at Mather VA and there is a serious question regarding his death following heart surgery. The VA admits that a DNR armband was mistakenly placed on Mayo's wrist, but officials insist the error was caught quickly and it didn't contribute to his death. Family members claim the hospital would not return phone calls seeking a detailed explanation of Mayo’s death. Last summer another Veteran died and a YouTube Video shows his wife begging the Mather VA to help her husband. Eventually the Veteran died without any VA help.
The VA’s Dirty Little Secret - Incompetent Doctor Care
My health is questionable at this time but I will continue to seek the truth. I do not want to be just another Veteran that a VA doctor killed. I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) years ago as a result of the numerous military deaths I witnessed and Chauhan is the trigger that has made those cases return to my mind. It has made my life miserable/depressed for the last many months. As I am not the only Veteran with this problem hopefully, others will challenge incompetent VA officials. Since this happened it appears there is a gag order for VA officials not to talk to me when I asked for my Tort claim investigation to be reviewed.
All persons mentioned in this story were contacted for an interview but none responded.
Other VA stories by Clausen
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