Nelson demands details of death

Rich Stecher died while in VA care on June 30.

Rich Stecher died while in VA care on June 30.

TAMPA — Sen. Bill Nelson asked the James A. Haley VA Medical Center this week to provide him a full explanation about the care provided to a man who died in its care.

The St. Petersburg Times reported last week that Haley left out critical information about the care it gave Richard Stecher when Nelson's office asked about the case earlier.

Stecher, 64, of Tarpon Springs died June 30 as a result of a perforated bowel obstruction.

Stecher's longtime companion complained about Haley's treatment of Stecher to Nelson's office and to Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor.

But Haley's response to the congressmen in July left out seemingly important information. Among the things Bilirakis and Nelson weren't told:

Haley's chief of staff had apologized to Stecher's companion. Haley concluded three doctors "missed opportunities" to treat Stecher. Stecher had to get a CAT scan at a non-VA facility because it had a staff shortage; and Stecher should have been admitted to the hospital in April, two months before he was admitted.

The VA has said privacy concerns limited how much information it could provide lawmakers.

Bilirakis also plans to meet with VA officials, perhaps next week, to discuss the case.

"We need to get to the bottom of this case," Nelson said in a statement. "If mistakes were made, the public needs to know whether the hospital is taking corrective actions to prevent them from happening again."

Nelson demands details of death 08/14/08 [Last modified: Thursday, August 14, 2008 10:30pm]

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