Disease Error-Veterans

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
now estimates that more than 600 veterans erroneously received letters telling them they had been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease.

As a result of the panic the letters caused, the agency plans to create a more rigorous screening process for its notification letters.

It's also offering to reimburse veterans for medical expenses incurred as a result of the letters. A former Air Force reservist who spent more than $3,000 for a second opinion says reimbursement is "the least they can do."

VA spokeswoman Katie Roberts says the department plans to call every veteran who received the letter by mistake and explain how the error occurred.

The VA blames a coding error, but says it's working to identify the specific problems behind the mistake.

ALS is a rapidly progressive disease that attacks the nerve cells responsible for controlling muscles and typically kills people within five years.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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