Eric Walker, 47, (pictured during his service in the early 90s) was admitted to Dorn Veterans Hospital in Columbia, South Carolina, with severe abdominal pains. He was dismissed an hour later with cocaine addiction pamphlets
A US Navy veteran with gallstones and a stomach disease was dismissed by doctors as a cocaine addict after his urine test was mixed up with another.
Eric Walker, 47, was admitted to the emergency room at Dorn Veterans Hospital in Columbia, South Carolina, with severe abdominal pains.
But after providing a urine sample, he was met by doctors who ordered him to go home and handed him pamphlets about getting off cocaine – a drug he claims he has never taken.
Within days, Walker returned in crippling pain and scans revealed he needed emergency surgery for gallstones and a rare disease of the gall bladder and pancreas.
Now, Walker, who served in the Persian Gulf during the Iraq War of 1991, is suing for damages to cover the cost of his medical payments and more for the pain and torment.
His attorney Todd Lyle, a fellow veteran who flew helicopters in Iraq in 2011 with the US Army, said the case is another reminder that resources and services for veterans are not always well-oiled machines.
‘The Dorn VA Hospital provides a valuable service to our veterans and our community is enhanced by this medical provider,’ Lyle told Task & Purpose.
‘However, Eric’s story is why we must be ever vigilant to protect our veterans.’
Walker served on a guided missile ship between 1989 and 1993.
It is not clear what disease of the pancreas Walker suffered, nor what caused his gallstones.
Gallstones are hardened lumps formed from digestive fluid. They can range from the size of a sand grain to a golf ball.
The condition is more common among women over 40, or pregnant women. Being inactive, overweight and eating a low-fiber diet can also be a triggering factor, and one of the biggest risk factors is losing weight quickly.
If it is a mild case or early on, the symptoms may be hard to spot.
However, over time the pain can intensify.
Sufferers often experience severe pain in the upper part of their abdomen, the center near their diaphragm, between their shoulder blades and in their right shoulder.
Many also experience vomiting and fainting.
Severe cases can turn a sufferer’s skin yellow, cause a fever and pain so intense that nothing will shift it.