Thomas Brazofsky, who died at Sumner County Medical Center
Ricky Gregory, Brazofsky's friend
Bruce James, Sumner County Regional Medical Center hospital administrator.
A NewsChannel 5 Investigation raises questions about the care a man received at a local hospital.
Earlier this year, he was taken to the emergency room at Sumner Regional Medical Center.
Nurses took his vital signs and gave him a bed.
NewsChannel 5 investigative reporter Ben Hall discovered no one checked the man's vital signs again. Nurses discovered him dead the next morning, and no one tried to revive him.
"He always took pictures. He kept a camera around everywhere," said Ricky Gregory.
He will never forget his friend.
"They said he looked like Elvis growing up," Gregory said about Thomas Brazofsky.
Brazofsky was a pilot in the Air Force. He had recently retired from Peterbilt after working for the company 34 years.
He was also the godfather of Gregory's daughter.
"He's a great person. He'd do anything for anybody no matter if he knowed you or not," Gregory said.
When some of his friends discovered Brazofsky drinking and in pain one afternoon in January, they called an ambulance.
He went to the emergency room, and Gregory said that was the last time he saw him alive.
"We sat in the emergency room knowing something wasn't right. I mean, but we didn't know what," he said.
They were right.
They went home and came back the next morning and were shocked to learn about Brazofsky's death.
Brazofsky arrived at the emergency room at 3:20 p.m. one Sunday. Nurses took his vital signs and checked him in.
But the records show no one ever took his vital signs again. When he was found dead the next morning he was already cold to the touch.
No one tried to revive him.
"We didn't follow our policies. We've made all the efforts we can to make sure we don't have that problem again," said Bruce James, Sumner County Regional Medical Center hospital administrator.
He said the hospital's policy is to check vital signs at least every two hours.
When asked why Brazofsky's vital signs were checked one time," James said, "I can't answer that. I was not the caregiver involved with that."
Brazofsky's death led to a federal investigation.
On top of the problems with his care, investigators discovered the emergency room was short staffed. Instead of seven registered nurses five were on duty most of the night.
"We don't feel at any time we put the patient at risk for not having appropriate staffing," James said. "We're very comfortable that we provided very good care."
But investigators cited immediate jeopardy at Sumner, which could have cost the hospital its Medicare funding.
Gregory finds it hard to believe staffing was not a problem.
"Him being in there that long somebody should have checked more," he said.
Sumner is opening a new facility this month. It has a plan in place to correct the problems including the re-education of staff.
But in May when investigators returned, they found more problems. The hospital failed to secure medications by leaving two vials of drugs on a counter.
It also failed to maintain a sanitary environment because of a layer of dust found on top of an infant warmer.
"We want to provide very good care and we think we do all the time," James said. "That doesn't mean that when somebody comes in to do the white glove test that you're not going to find a few areas here, yonder and there," he said.
Sumner now has a plan in place to make sure those problems don't come up again.
"We went with intentions to get him the next morning and bring him home you know," Gregory said.
No autopsy was performed.
The official cause of death was hardening of the arteries and heart failure.
But Gregory believes if his friend had been monitored he might still be alive.
Federal investigators have threatened seven other hospitals in Tennessee with losing their Medicare funding so far this year.
All of them have taken corrective steps, which allow them to keep their funding.
If anyone has information on this or anything else NewsChannel 5 should investigate, send tips to investigate at NewsChannel.com or call 615-244-NEWS.