SEATTLE -- In a claim filed in Western District Court, Donald Douglass' family says delays in his treatment for skin cancer resulted in his death.
In 2011 Douglass underwent a biopsy for melanoma on his forehead at the VA Medical Center. In court documents, the claim alleges doctors determined he would require surgery. Douglass' sister says the referral never came, despite repeated calls to his VA case manager. "Nasty when he called, and essentially threatening that she would delay if he continued to bother her," said Connie Olberg.
Frustrated by the delay in scheduling the operation, Douglass eventually sought treatment outside the VA and underwent surgery four months later at the University of Washington Medical Center. But Olberg says by then it was too late. The cancer had spread first to the nerves in his face, then to his bloodstream.
"That haunted me. I thought, 'who else have you done this to, who else have you killed.' I know that's a strong statement but that's what I felt," Olberg said.
Douglass died in November 2012.
His sister is now seeking damages for medical negligence.
A spokesman for VA Puget Sound says he cannot comment on pending litigation, but denies the claim. He also said an audit that happened this month found no evidence of extensive wait lists at the Seattle hospital.