The VA isn't treating my condition to my satisfaction, what should I do?

Jim's Mailbag

I am a retired veteran with a 80% disability rating. 40% for my back alone.  I started using the VA for my back issues which is now very chronic and painful.  However, the VA will not treat my service connected disability injury.  I have been using TRICARE for everything, specialist referrals etc.  Even the VA scoffed at the spine specialist referrals stating the VA will not cover it???  I have been totally dependant on TRICARE for everything.  I am in the process of re-filing for TDIU due to my back disability and being unable to have any gainful employment.  I had to retire in 2015 due to my back pain.  My question to you is what is my best option to file a complaint against the doctor/VA for non-treatment of my service connected injury?  I do not want to use the patient advocate solely as I want everyone to know up the chain what has happen.  I have a journal and a time line of everything.  Do you have names and addresses where I can get a prompt response?  I also wish to change doctors as well.

 

 

Jim's Reply

 

I'm not sure what you mean when you say, "VA will not treat my service connected disability injury?" There are different degrees or types of "will not treat" so we need to determine just what you mean. I have a feeling we can rule out that VA won't see you for medical care. I'll assume you can still make appointments to see your PCP and so on. I'll take a guess that you mean that the VA won't medically treat your condition to your satisfaction. It sounds as if VA docs may be offering you less treatment than you believe you need.

 

Unfortunately, there's little to be done in those situations. Medical opinions for conservative treatment or therapy are pretty much impossible to override unless there is some sort of medical malpractice involved. If you don't like the way VA offers therapy, it sounds as if you have options with Tricare. If the VA team treating you believe that their treatment is timely and appropriate, they will not pay for any sort of outside treatment. The decision to send a patient to a specialist is a decision made by the doctors in concert with their patient. If the patient disagrees, the docs still carry the day. Use Tricare, forget the VA. I always caution others to be careful what you ask for when seeking more aggressive treatment. You may get more than you ever wanted.

 

Complaints always begin with the advocate, that's routine policy and procedure. I have little hope you'll see a prompt response but you can try. If you believe that VHA health care has caused you measurable harm, you need to speak with a veterans law attorney who is familiar with VHA medical malpractice. There is a time limit to do that so if that's a goal, the sooner the better.