Veterans Affairs Medical Center is Investigated After a Series of Deaths

Stephen M. Smith
Last Updated:
December 2, 2019
Soldiers in formation, honoring those who wrongfully died.

Our veterans served their country, often in difficult circumstances and inhospitable places. But their medical treatment when they returned home left much to be desired. Bad conditions and mismanagement at Veterans Affairs medical centers have made headlines in recent years. One center in West Virginia is being investigated after a series of deaths.

Recently, a federal medical examiner found that the death of Vietnam veteran Felix Kirk McDermott in 2018, at the Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center in Clarksburg, West Virginia, was caused by insulin being injected into his abdomen, a potentially-deadly procedure for someone who isn't diabetic.

A report in Task & Purpose noted McDermott, an 82-year-old Vietnam veteran who served in the Pennsylvania National Guard, was admitted to the West Virginia VA hospital on April 6, 2018 for pneumonia. He suffered from physical disabilities and dementia after a stroke. His health was improving before he unexpectedly died three days after admission to the hospital.

A wrongful death claim on behalf of McDermott’s family noted the Vietnam veteran’s death is being treated as a homicide.

The claim noted McDermott was not a diabetic. It stated there was no reason why he should have received an insulin injection. His family sought $5 million for wrongful death and $1 million for personal injury.

The claim stated before McDermott’s death on April 9, 2018, as many as 10 other patients at the Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center in Clarksburg, West Virginia, died suddenly and unexpectedly from low blood sugar, described as  "unexplained severe hypoglycemia.” The claim stated:

“The employees of the VAMC were aware of each of the unexpected and suspicious deaths. Each of these nine or ten patients had received a large and wrongful injection of insulin in the abdomen that was neither ordered by a doctor or medically necessary."

Veterans Administration hospitals face countless allegations of medical malpractice and even staff deliberately harming elderly patients.

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren has called for answers over how a Bedford VA nurse allegedly diverted morphine from a hospice patient, causing him to suffer on the day before his death, the Boston Herald reported.

Warren said she is tired of hearing about horrifying reports of mistreatment of patients at the facility.

She called for answers into the death in July 2016 of Vietnam War veteran William R. Nutter Jr. According to reports, he died at the Bedford facility when an on-duty nurse was playing video games and not carrying our mandatory hourly checks on her patient.

The abuse of veterans appears to be widespread. In 2018, an inspection company cited 52 out of 99 VA nursing homes for serious deficiencies. These lapses caused “actual harm” to veterans. The private company that conducted the inspections found veterans were in jeopardy due to serious conditions at eight facilities.

The inspection team found serious examples of medical malpractice. Workers at more than two dozen VA nursing homes failed to ensure bedsores healed or new ones did not form on patients. Bedsores are associated with immobile patients. They form when staff fail to move the patients and can be deadly.

In 2017, the inspector general's office for the Department of Veterans Affairs substantiated a portion of a complaint claiming inadequate patient care at the Hampton VA Medical Center's nursing home.

The Daily Press reported the inspector general's office found five of the 15 assertions made about services at the Hampton VA's "Community Living Center" contained merit. Several others could not be substantiated or were unfounded.

Talk to an Injury Lawyer over Mistreatment at a Veterans Affairs Medical Center

Hampton Roads has a long and proud military tradition. While we owe our veterans a great debt, Veterans Affairs Medical Centers and nursing homes often fail to give them the standard of care they deserve. We are horrified by some of the accounts of mistreatment at VA facilities. Please talk to the lawyers at the Smith Law Center today about elder abuse or wrongful death lawsuits at a VA facility. Our experienced trial lawyers have a long track record in fighting big business and institutions like the VA. Please contact us for a free consultation.

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