VA Hospital investigation prompts resolution for mismanagement - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Family: VA hospital said brother had allergic reaction to pizza, later determined to be MRSA

(WMC-TV) - A House Committee on Veterans Affairs announced plans Thursday to introduce the VA Management Accountability Act of 2014. This would give VA secretaries complete authority to fire or demote employees based on performance. 

It is a proposal prompted by new details of VA Hospital mismanagement.  

Mark Lesure's brother Melvin died in April of 2013, seven days after being treated at the VA Hospital in Memphis.

"They said he had an allergic reaction to a pizza," said Lesure.

Lesure says the VA treated Melvin with antibiotics and sent him home although his face and eye were swollen. He says Melvin returned to work driving trucks, but his health deteriorated within days.

Melvin ended up in a Kansas hospital alone where he died.

"That's when they determined he had MRSA (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus) so they immediately started to fill his body with antibiotics and they started calling us saying hey you need to get here pretty quick," said Lesure.

Florida Representative Jeff Miller announced that in addition to the 21 preventable patient deaths documented by The VA's Inspector General, including three in Memphis, congressional investigators received documents that show evidence of 10 additional preventable deaths. The details of which have not been disclosed.

"Unfortunately, VA has been completely unresponsive to our requests, and its leaders apparently fail to realize that regaining the trust of [the] Memphis veterans it is charged with serving is going to require more honesty and accountability from the department," said Miller.

Now Lesure questions if his brother was another undocumented victim, but the answers Lesure seeks may not come.

"Just please explain to my mother and father why my brother's not here," he said.

Miller says in addition to deaths, the disability benefits backlog is a pressing problem. The VA medical centers employs 300,000 employees and executives across the country.

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