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Lawsuit response: VA denies responsibility for Massena man’s death


The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs denies any wrongdoing in the 2011 death of a Massena man at one of its hospitals.

Sandra Canfield, as administrator of the estate of her husband, Frank L. Canfield, filed a $2 million wrongful-death lawsuit in January in U.S. District Court, Syracuse, against the United States of America, as operators of the Buffalo Veteran Affairs Medical Center.

The suit claims Mr. Canfield was a patient at the hospital July 19, 2011, undergoing open heart surgery. It is alleged that a coronary bypass machine was “connected incorrectly,” specifically “in reverse,” causing Mr. Canfield to suffer a right ventricle tear, resulting in his death.

The suit claims, among other things, that the death was a direct cause of hospital employees’ carelessness and negligence and that employees failed to follow proper procedures or protocols regarding the performance of a coronary bypass. It further is claimed that employees failed to properly and adequately follow up on Mr. Canfield’s care so as to timely recognize and respond to damage allegedly caused by the care.

The action maintains that Mr. Canfield did not give his informed consent with respect to the course of care and treatment provided to him and that, had he been informed, he would not have agreed to the treatment provided.

In a response filed Friday, the department denied each of the claims, additionally arguing the lawsuit was brought too late, or more than the two years’ time limitation required to bring a claim. The department has asked to have the suit dismissed.

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