Part I – VA Malpractice/Negligence — The Case of Marine Veteran Brian Tally
Marine Veteran Brian Tally was a vibrant, healthy business owner. He coached youth sports, worked out, was a hands-on active businessman, and enjoyed his time with family. But a misdiagnosis and series of negligent actions by VA Loma Linda in California began a journey into hell for this man who will never recover his previous life.
In January of 2016, Brian developed severe back pain. He had not fallen or injured himself in any way. There were no signs of physical trauma, but the pain became intolerable. He began having severe night sweats on top of the ever-increasing pain. He was in a lot of agony for a month before he went to the doctor – he had always been a tough man.
He tried Ibuprofen, but eventually the pain became so severe that he called his primary care physician on February 4, 2016. She mailed him some medications. By the 17th, Brian was in so much pain that he was lying face down on his cold bathroom floor, “moaning and crying for relief.” Because he couldn’t even go to the bathroom, he had a bucket beside him to pee in.
By February 19, his wife was so upset about her husband’s condition that she took him to the ER at VA Loma Linda. They took an x-ray and diagnosed him with low back sprain, and sent him home with a plethora of drugs: Kenalog (steroid), Toradal (Keterolac- anti inflammatory), Gabapentin (anti-seizure drug), and Methacarbomal (muscle relaxant). They told him to followup with his primary care doctor.
In his words:
“On February 22nd my wife checked me back into the ER. At this point I couldn’t bear the pain any longer and began having panic attacks. I was at a 10/10 with pain, and I was again reiterating my symptoms of severe low back pain, excessive bed / night sweats, and that I could no longer walk as I was in a wheel chair in the ER. The pain brought me to my knees and my wife began to cry and was comforted by fellow veterans as my wife thought I was dying.”
Instead of checking his blood, or anything else, the VA staff simply gave him two injections of Dilaudid. Dilaudid is also known as Hydromorphone and is often used on the battlefield for wounded patients. It’s a heavy painkiller and can cause confusion, addiction, and a host of other issues. Remember, Mr. Tally had no outward signs of trauma to his body. This would have been the perfect time for an MRI to see what was really going on in there. But no, he was sent home again with yet another pile of medications and told it was a lumbar sprain.
ER staff also “yelled” at his wife for “not following up” with the primary care doctor. Except that they had been trying, calling numerous times and receiving no answer back. The hospital managed to get through to Tally’s doctor at the VA in Murrieta. An appointment was set for February 23.
At that appointment, the doctor prescribed even MORE medications and told him to “stretch.” His body had begun to atrophy, he had lost 35 pounds, and couldn’t walk without a walker. He told us he felt like a zombie from all the pain meds. The Tallys demanded an MRI- but they were told that it would have to be ordered by the Orthopedic department at VA Loma Linda. But since the X-rays didn’t show anything, it likely wouldn’t be deemed necessary.
By February 29, once again, calling the doctor did nothing, and he STILL hadn’t been contacted by the Orthopedic department. On March 3, his wife loaded him in the car and drove to a private imaging facility in Temecula. They paid $500 out of their own pocket for an MRI of Tally’s back and had the results sent to his primary care doctor and the Orthopedic department. The MRI showed a horrifying answer to his pain. Things were about to go from bad to critical.
Stay tuned for the next installment –it gets much, much worse.