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A South Carolina VA hospital turned away a sick Navy vet who tested hot for coke, then settled when he claimed they mixed up his urine sample
A Navy veteran who sued Dorn Veterans Hospital for allegedly failing to diagnose and promptly treat him when he came to the hospital sick has gotten $150,000 in a settlement of his medical malpractice lawsuit.
"I didn't expect any money out of this," said Eric Walker, 49, of Camden, the Navy veteran. "It was mainly about what can we do to make the VA better. What can we do to keep this from happening again?"
In 2015, when Walker went to Dorn hoping to be treated for severe abdominal pains, medical workers at the hospital accidentally switched his urine sample with that of a cocaine addict, his lawsuit alleged.
Doctors then told him to leave the hospital and stop taking cocaine, Walker's lawsuit alleged.
"I said, 'I don't do cocaine,' and he said, 'I hear that all the time — but your urinalysis says otherwise,'" Walker told The State.
Walker said he has never taken cocaine, is not a drug addict and went to Dorn hoping to get relief from what he described as horrible pain.
On a scale of 1 to 10, Walker recalled in a recent interview, his pain was "probably a 12."
"I had been pretty much in a fetal position at my house for five or six days, couldn't move. I thought I had just bad stomach pains," Walker said. "It was bad enough to where I couldn't stand up straight."
Sending Walker away from Dorn without more tests that should have been done to detect his real condition — gallstones and a diseased gallbladder and pancreas — constituted a failure to properly and promptly diagnose the veteran, Walker's lawsuit contended.
In a statement Monday, Veterans Affairs took issue with the lawsuit's urine sample allegation.
"There is no evidence this veteran's lab results were handled improperly. VA settled this case to avoid further litigation," a VA statement said.
"Thousands of S.C. veterans choose to be treated at the Columbia VA health care system because they know we provide exceptional health care that improves their health and well-being," the statement said.
After being sent home, Walker's pains grew and he finally had a friend take him to Lexington Medical Center. There, he was diagnosed promptly and scheduled for surgery for gallstones and gallbladder and pancreatic disease.
Walker's lawyer, Todd Lyle of Columbia, said Monday that had the case gone to trial, "the evidence concerning the urine sample was more than sufficient to convince a jury that Mr. Walker's urine sample had been improperly analyzed.
Also, Lyle said, Walker had numerous tests from his previous VA treatments in which he was never found positive for cocaine, and Lexington Medical Center several days later found no cocaine in his system.
Lyle is also a veteran. He flew Apache helicopters in combat in Iraq in 2011 and continues to serve in the S.C. Army National Guard.
"Eric Walker was never interested in filing a lawsuit, but the VA's failure to make this right gave him no choice," Lyle said. "Ultimately, the VA finally provided Mr. Walker with just compensation."
Walker was in the Navy from 1989 to 1993, serving a six-month tour in the Persian Gulf as part of Operation Desert Shield in the first Iraq War. An enlisted man, he was part of the crew on a guided missile ship.
In settlement documents, Veterans Affairs admitted no fault and said it was settling the case to avoid "the expenses and risks of further litigation."
Walker, who grew up in Camden and graduated from Camden High School in 1988, said he filed the lawsuit because he believed the public attention from the lawsuit might help other veterans avoid the kind of suffering he had because of what he says was a medical error.
"When a veteran goes to the VA, we expect good care," Walker said. "We take care of this country. We expect to be taken care of when we get home."
©2019 The State (Columbia, S.C.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
BANGKOK (Reuters) - The United States and South Korea said on Sunday they will postpone upcoming military drills in an effort to bolster a stalled peace push with North Korea, even as Washington denied the move amounted to another concession to Pyongyang.
The drills, known as the Combined Flying Training Event, would have simulated air combat scenarios and involved an undisclosed number of warplanes from both the United States and South Korea.
An opening ceremony will be held Monday on Hawaii island for a military exercise with China that will involve about 100 People's Liberation Army soldiers training alongside U.S. Army counterparts.
This comes after Adm. Phil Davidson, head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, spoke on Veterans Day at Punchbowl cemetery about the "rules-based international order" that followed U.S. victory in the Pacific in World War II, and China's attempts to usurp it.
Those American standards "are even more important today," Davidson said, "as malicious actors like the Communist Party of China seek to redefine the international order through corruption, malign cyber activities, intellectual property theft, restriction of individual liberties, military coercion and the direct attempts to override other nations' sovereignty."
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Sunday told North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to "act quickly" to reach a deal with the United States, in a tweet weighing in on North Korea's criticism of his political rival former Vice President Joe Biden.
Trump, who has met Kim three times since 2018 over ending the North's missile and nuclear programs, addressed Kim directly, referring to the one-party state's ruler as "Mr. Chairman".
In his tweet, Trump told Kim, "You should act quickly, get the deal done," and hinted at a further meeting, signing off "See you soon!"
It is impossible to tune out news about the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump now that the hearings have become public. And this means that cable news networks and Congress are happier than pigs in manure: this story will dominate the news for the foreseeable future unless Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt get back together.
But the wall-to-wall coverage of impeachment mania has also created a news desert. To those of you who would rather emigrate to North Korea than watch one more lawmaker grandstand for the cameras, I humbly offer you an oasis of news that has absolutely nothing to do with Washington intrigue.
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia will return three captured naval ships to Ukraine on Monday and is moving them to a handover location agreed with Kiev, Crimea's border guard service was cited as saying by Russian news agencies on Sunday.
A Reuters reporter in Crimea, which Russian annexed from Ukraine in 2014, earlier on Sunday saw coastguard boats pulling the three vessels through the Kerch Strait toward the Black Sea where they could potentially be handed over to Ukraine.