1st lawsuit in VA insulin deaths claims hospital staff was negligent

The family of a veteran who died from improper insulin injections at Clarksburg, W.Va.-based Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center filed a lawsuit for damages March 2, according to the Weirton Daily Times.

Eleven veterans in the hospital's medical-surgical unit were improperly injected with insulin from 2017-18. Three of the deaths were ruled homicides. A person of interest in the deaths — a nursing assistant at the facility — was fired, though no charges have been filed. 

The daughter of veteran Felix McDermott, whose death was ruled a homicide, filed the lawsuit, the first filed for damages in the matter. The suit alleges hospital staff were negligent and failed to adhere to medical standards of care after detecting an unexplained drop in Mr. McDermott's blood sugar. 

The hospital had an obligation to protect patients from the wrongful conduct of "third persons, including members of the VAMC staff," the lawsuit said. Hospital staff knew the facility's rate of such unexplained hypoglycemic events "was unheard of in the national hospital industry," the suit claims.

The facility also failed to tell Mr. McDermott's family of the circumstances surrounding the death and didn't report it as an adverse sentinel event that met autopsy criteria, the lawsuit said.  

Defendants are the U.S. and Robert Wilkie, secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs.  

The Weirton Daily Times was unable to reach the Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center for comment.

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