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#VAFail: Houston VA medical center accused of mistreatment after veteran’s health declines

By Concerned Veterans for America

In Houston, an unexpected nightmare began for veteran David Norman Williams inside the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center. 

Constance Williams, David’s wife, shared his story with Houston’s KPRC 2 in May 

On March 4, the 74-year-old veteran was admitted for a kidney transplant. As of the time of the report, he had remained there for more than 64 days.  

“David came in with other patients that had the kidney transplant. All of them left on the seventh day. We were the only ones left,” Mrs. Williams told KPRC 2, voicing her distress. 

David’s weight plummeted to under 100 pounds, and she acknowledged fearing the worst-case scenario. “Somedays I’m scared to even go in the room because I think I’m going to find him deceased.” 

Mrs. Williams told KPRC 2 her husband wasn’t the only one in the facility desperate for care. She shared that she heard the pleas of other veterans firsthand. “When I walk to the nurse station, I hear other veterans say, ‘help me, please somebody come change me bring me some water.’”  


Baffling health decline: Unanswered complaints and severe pain 

After his procedure, David began experiencing additional issues during recovery including severe stomach pain, pneumonia, trouble swallowing and digesting, and bedsores resulting from leaving David sitting in his own waste. 

Mrs. Williams tried to get an idea from the nursing staff what was going on in his recovery, but she claims the nursing staff said they didn’t know. 

Mrs. Williams also said the staff placed a feeding tube the incorrect way in her husband’s mouth. The day after that incident, Mrs. Williams shared that the hospital staff nearly operated on her husband by accident, mistaking him for another patient with the same last name. “The nurse came in and said, ‘you have the wrong Mr. Williams,’” she told KPRC 2. 


VA’s apology rings hollow for the Williams family 

A VA spokesperson called the circumstances “unacceptable” and pledged systemic review. But Mrs. Williams brushed off their apology. “I told them ‘You’re not sorry, [you’re sorry] you got caught,’” she said. 

After Mrs. Williams voiced her concerns publicly, the hospital assigned a personal nurse to him. Despite these changes, David was still in the hospital at the time of the report battling blood clots in his legs and over his heart.  

Shockingly, Mrs. Williams said the hospital denied the family’s request to move David to a different hospital because they performed the kidney transplant.  

As if that is a legitimate reason to keep David in a facility that he is not happy or well in. 

No veteran should be stuck with this level of care. And it shouldn’t take a patient’s family going public with their displeasure for the VA to take corrective action.  

Veterans need to have greater choice in where they seek their medical care. 


Learn more about the options veterans have to seek care in the community.