1. Military

State corrects errors in its lawsuit against VA

Published Jul. 23, 2014

The state has filed an amended lawsuit against the Department of Veterans Affairs that deletes several significant errors about a patient offered as an example of the poor care veterans receive in agency hospitals.

The Tampa Bay Times reported earlier this month that the suit made several errors in the case of veteran Roland "Dale" Dickerson, a Largo resident who believes the VA failed to treat his serious coronary blockages in a timely manner.

The suit said Dickerson tried to get care at St. Petersburg General Hospital and had a procedure showing he had a minimal narrowing of his coronary arteries when, in fact, he had a 69 percent blockage. It noted Dickerson had to get pricey private health insurance to pay for heart surgery at a non-VA hospital.

None of these assertions are true, though a Times review of Dickerson's medical file appeared to support the veteran's belief that the VA delayed critical heart tests for more than two years.

The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, at the behest of Gov. Rick Scott, filed the lawsuit earlier this year after its inspectors were turned away from several VA hospitals, including two in the Tampa Bay area. Scott contends the state has a legal responsibility to protect patients. But the VA maintains the state has no jurisdiction in a federal facility.

The state's lawyers, the Times found, had not reviewed Dickerson's medical file before filing suit.