A judge awarded $2.5 million to Army veteran Steven Cooper, who is now suffering from terminal cancer, after the Phoenix VA completely botched his diagnosis and missed his then-curable cancer.
In late 2011, a nurse at the Carl T. Hayden medical center discovered upon examination that his prostate was enlarged, but declined to refer him to a urologist, resulting in his cancer developing out of control to the point where it’s now terminal, The Associated Press reports.
“He basically sent me home to die,” Cooper told the Associated Press. “I felt absolutely betrayed by my country that I served for 18 years when all I was seeking was basic healthcare.”
U.S. Magistrate Judge Michelle Burns handed down the award for suffering and loss of earnings after ruling the nurse breached the standard of care.
“They could’ve made a $200 million verdict. I’m still going to die in a few years, so that’s irrelevant,” Cooper said.
“And these veterans still to this day, years after they broke the scandal, still can’t get access to care at the V-A or the private sector and I will die fight ’til my last breath so these veterans can get access to decent health care,” he added.
It’s estimated that Cooper, who served in the Army for 18 years, has around five years left to live.
If the VA had ordered more tests, it’s possible the situation could’ve turned out differently. But on this timeline, a VA doctor diagnosed him with stage 4 terminal prostate cancer in 2012.
“You have one of the worst cases of prostate cancer I have seen in my life. There’s nothing I can or will do for you. Hospice will be calling you,” Cooper said in late February during the trial, remembering the conversation he had with the doctor.
The Phoenix VA has been slammed with criticism over poor care for years since the 2014 secret wait list scandal went public, and although the origin of Cooper’s case stems back to 2011, it’s indicative of abysmal practices at the medical center.
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