I want to prevent another of our veterans from being murdered by the poor care my companion of 19 years, Richard E. Stecher suffered in the hands of James A. Haley VA Hospital this year.
Rich started to have intestinal problems in the beginning of the year. From Jan. until June, he lost 50 lbs., his stomach looked like he was expecting triplets and you could see and feel the bands of his intestines.
He was sent for a CAT scan and x-ray that showed a 9 1/2-cm. blockage. They then sent him for 2 Colonoscopies. Neither could be finished because of the blockage. He was sent to a surgeon who ordered a Barium Enema test for July 1st.
June 25th his primary Dr. sent him to the VA hospital. We saw another surgeon who saw no surgical reason to admit him and sent him home with the prep for a Barium test. The next morning we went back and they performed the test. When it was over, they did not clean him. I had to ask for towels to remove the feces smeared on his backside & legs while tears ran down his face.
A Physician's Assistant gave me a note for the Emergency Room to admit him stat for possible 'Volvulus' (twisted intestine); he needed decompression or surgery STAT!
We were kept waiting 45 minutes after showing the clerk at the desk the note.
Once in the ER, they immediately called in a surgeon who called for an OR Stat! By now, my Rich could not speak or respond to us. He went into surgery not even knowing he was going. Rich coded on the table. He developed Sepsis Syndrome, his vital organs started to shut down, and Rich was on life support for 3 days until I had to let him go 6/30/08.
July 23 I met with the Chief of Staff, Dr. Cutolo, a VA lawyer, James Kelly and a rep. from the Directors office. All three admitted it was their (the VA‘s) fault he died. He should have been admitted in April and they ruptured his colon during the Barium test he had on Fri.
The causes of death on Richard’s death certificate are:
A) bowel obstruction w/perforation (approximate interval onset to death- 3 days)
B) perforated diverticulitis ( “ “ “ “ “ - weeks)
C) multiple organ dysfunction/Sepsis syndrome ( app. interval onset to death- 3 days)
At first I had no thought of suing the VA, but after they admitted that they were wrong and if he had proper treatment he would be alive today and we would have had our wedding that was set for July. That is when I decided I had to sue to prevent another veteran from being killed again.
I discovered that under Florida law, I can not sue the VA, nor can his two children because they are over 25, only a spouse or sibling under 25 can, so the VA can get away with killing a veteran with their poor medical care and not even get a slap on the wrist Unless Florida changes it's legislation and statues, everyone in our position of not being married will run into the same problem I have with the VA and other legal issues in Florida and 35 other states and the VA will continue to go on killing veterans.
I have attached 2 links, 1 for a newspaper article that was in todays St. Petersburg Times and the other that is my website concerning what happened to Rich.
http://www.tampabay.com/news/military/v ... 762728.ece