PHOENIX - It was nearly three years ago that the Phoenix Veterans Administration hospital became ground zero for a nationwide scandal over wait times. On Monday, the first case against the V-A hospital alleging malpractice will head to court.
44-year-old veteran Steven Cooper served in the Army for 18 years and he and his lawyers are taking on the Phoenix V-A in federal court. They're accusing the medical center of not only denying him access to care, but also failing to diagnose his advanced stage prostate cancer.
This all started back in 2011. Cooper's lawyer say he was having a hard time getting into a doctor at the Carl T. Hayden V-A medical center in Phoenix. He says his appointments kept getting cancelled or rescheduled. But when he was finally able to see a nurse practitioner, the lawsuit claims they didn't order any further testing, didn't give any specialist referrals and didn't recommend any further treatment or follow-up despite an abnormal prostate exam.
One year later, Cooper was able to see a V-A doctor who ended up diagnosing him with terminal, state four prostate cancer. The lawsuit says that doctor didn't recommend treatment, instead advised Cooper to go into hospice care, forcing him to look for a doctor outside of the V-A to treat him.
Now, despite major surgery, Cooper is still terminally ill. The lawsuit alleges that if Cooper had been properly tested and treated in the first place, he wouldn't be where he is today.
Cooper and his lawyers are suing the V-A for $50 million in damages. Opening statements begin at 9:00 a.m.