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Civil Lawsuit Filed in Federal Court Claims Sheridan VA Staff Made False Reports Regarding Patient’s Death

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A civil lawsuit was recently filed in Federal Court in Wyoming that claims that hospital staff of the Sheridan VA Medical Center falsely reported the death of Navy Veteran John Behles. The complaint was filed by Barbara Pierson, who is the estate representative of Behles. According to the lawsuit filed by Pierson, sometime during the evening of June 9, 2020, Behles suffered a catastrophic or traumatic event, likely either an assault or a drop/fall from a patient lift — that resulted in a severe traumatic head injury. On June 10, Behles died as a direct result of those injuries. The cause of death was listed as bronchopneumonia.

Pierson claims that after the event, staff with the Sheridan VAMC falsely reported to 911 and later charted that Behles had fallen from his bed, which the complaint states “was impossible because the bed was in the low position, surrounded by pads, and with the rails up.”  A VAMC nurse called the Sheridan County Sheriff’s Office to report that the patient’s injuries were not consistent with a fall and that the pool of blood from the fall had been cleaned up by staff, which the nurse said was suspicious. The VAMC Police interviewed several medical providers who opined that Behles injuries were inconsistent with a fall and that staff chart notes also indicate a coverup of the true cause of Behles’s catastrophic traumatic head injuries.

The complaint filed by Pierson alleges that Behles was either assaulted or was dropped by a VAMC staff member, and that VAMC staff agreed to cover up the true cause of Behles’s injuries and subsequent death. Pierson claims that Behles death was the result of the VAMC being short staffed, which resulted in either a lack of appropriate supervision, or the improper use of a patient lift device with only one staff member instead of two.

A letter that was sent from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to Pierson’s attorney in May, 2022, states that their review concluded there was no negligent or wrongful act on the part of any employee at the VAMC acting within the scope of employment that caused compensable harm and that Pierson’s claim had been denied. The letter further states that if Pierson is dissatisfied with the denial of her claims, she may file suit directly under the Federal Tort Claims Act, which resulted in the current lawsuit. Pierson is seeking damages not to exceed $11 million.



3 Comments

3 Comments

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    Deb Becker

    October 30, 2022 at 3:09 pm

    This happened to my father in the nursing home in the 90s and they covered it up. There was blood on the floor next to his bed and a lasceration on his head. He told me it was the nurses and they are mean to him. He pleaded me to take him out…the staff
    Had no answers for anything so when I did a surprise visit. My father had a accident in his bed. He had no clothes on I went to the. Main desk. No one was around. Then I saw a nurse in the hallway and told her what I witnessed. Also my father was trying to wipe it up. She said they would get to him ASAP so I left to return that evening and my dad was so different. Never talking like he always did. Was not happy to see me I thought maybe he was tired and told him I would be back the next day. Needless to say the home called me to tell me I needed to come as my father was not good. When I got there he was unresponsive and they wouldn’t call the ambulance as they said my dad wanted to die and it was his decision within the hour. My father took his last breath and we got nothing sorry for ur loss Nothing. He was gone. Did they beat him again I’m sure his death was not of natural causes. My father
    Had a massive stroke. Did he die due to the way he was treated as he had no stroke issues before. I blame them for his death. And will never trust another nursing home again ever

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    Judith BROWNING

    October 31, 2022 at 10:33 am

    My husband passed away September 15th at the VAMC/Mountain View hospice. He received the best of care from the most caring people. They also took excellent care of me. I seldom left his side but when I did a staff member sat with him the whole time I was gone knowing the end was close. We had an awful experience with a local nursing home earlier and removed him after 2 days. We have a lengthy history with Sheridan VA and of course falls happen, but this sounds like lack of knowledge and $11 million of greed to me.

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    Nancy Doll

    December 26, 2022 at 9:50 pm

    I have consistently reported the Sheridan VAMC concerning my care at my local CBOC. Where my records were altered. Pam Crowell was the assistant director of the Albuquerque New Mexico VAMC where wait times were falsified and Veterans died waiting for health care. Time and time again I reported over a year to my provider I had difficulty breathing and my blood pressure was dropping dangerously low I messaged the Afton Clinic and was told once again to come in the next available appointment. I went directly to our local emergency room. I was in heart failure. I saw a cardiologist previously 2 years prior and was put on a diuretic. My PCP denied this medication stating it was for fluid retention. This lead me to go into heart failure This could have been prevented. I have time and time again reported this to the director and my Congressional representatives. I asked to be seen my another provider and during a recorded call told to leave the state and take my care some where else. So far wait times are being falsified. As I have reported this to Washington DC on a recorded visit I was told if I came in my provider said he could send me out in town if I needed a referral and use Medicare. That the Sheridan VAMC was not sending patients in town. according to the Mission Act brought into place by President Trump as travel is impossible during winter months. When I ask to be seen I am retaliated against and forced to travel such places as Kalispell Montana. So far I have spent thousands of dollars on my own medical care. Our state leaders know the issues that are happening at the Sheridan VAMC as the Director Pam
    Crowell is the director of our local CBOC’s and the Sheridan VAMC . I reported these issues to her staff. I am currently waiting still on a colonoscopy as I have been since 2013. Which I am in high risk of colon cancer. This VA has many issues. What better place for a rogue director to hide but in a very rural area where most Veterans do not know how to access their own medical records or know they can request help from the Congressional leaders. I can go on but why. This is the worst VA system I have been in I wish justice in this case for the families involved. This is wrong but Pam Crowell needs to go as Wyoming Veteran’s deserve better care under the leadership of this administration How is this greed his death was covered up. You can look it up on the internet that Senator Barrasso reported the Sheridan VAMC which negligence lead to his brother in law’s death.

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