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Michigan Man Who Died Because of VA Error Was Vietnam Vet

The cover of the crypt that holds the cremated remains of Vietnam War veteran William Griffith is seen at Great Lakes National Cemetery, Nov. 9, 2017, in Holly, Mich. (AP Photo/Ed White)
The cover of the crypt that holds the cremated remains of Vietnam War veteran William Griffith is seen at Great Lakes National Cemetery, Nov. 9, 2017, in Holly, Mich. (AP Photo/Ed White)

HOLLY, Mich. — A man who died because of a stunning error at a Veterans Affairs hospital in Michigan was a 66-year-old Vietnam War veteran who liked to throw darts and shoot pool.

Roy Griffith confirmed to The Associated Press that his son, William Griffith, was the man who died last December when a nurse at a VA hospital in Ann Arbor mistakenly believed he had a no-resuscitation order.

Griffith's death was investigated by the inspector general at the Department of Veterans Affairs. A report released Tuesday called the case "disturbing," although the patient's name wasn't disclosed.

Griffith was suffering from chest pain and stopped breathing while recovering from artery bypass surgery. No one at the hospital attempted to resuscitate him, and he died the day after Christmas.

The elder Griffith declined further comment Thursday. William Griffith's wife, Roberta Griffith, also declined to comment.

"We miss him horribly," Griffith's sister, Sara Schuyler, told AP.

Griffith served two years in the Army during the Vietnam War, returning home with injuries in 1971, according to his obituary. He enjoyed darts and billiards. His cremated remains were interred at Great Lakes National Cemetery, a cemetery for veterans in Holly, Michigan, not far from his Oakland County home.

"Bill was a likable man who would do anything if you needed him to. He loved his family and will be missed by all who knew him," the obituary said.

Separately, Reps. Debbie Dingell and Tim Walberg said Thursday they've asked the VA for assurances that a "similar tragedy never happens again." A spokesman for the hospital, Brian Hayes, said changes have been made, including a requirement that two people confirm the status of a patient's resuscitation order.

The nurse who made the fatal mistake told investigators that he apparently was confused over Griffith's status that day. Hayes said the nurse could be fired.

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AP investigative researcher Randy Herschaft contributed to this story.

This article was written by Ed White from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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