The Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center in Clarksburg, West Virginia is under investigation after a series of suspicious deaths that occurred at the hospital from mid-2017 until July 2018. Specifically, the investigation is focused on the deaths of 11 veterans and whether they were improperly injected with insulin.
The investigation allegedly began in July 2018, after at least nine patients were diagnosed with unexplained low blood sugar. However, a more recent lawsuit against the VA for the wrongful death of one of these veterans has sparked necessary attention to the issue.
In April of 2018, former Army Sergeant Felix McDermott (82 years old) was admitted to the Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center for shortness of breath and a concern for food aspiration pneumonia; however, 3 days after admission he was found to be severely hypoglycemic and later died. Suspiciously, McDermott was not a diabetic and was never ordered to receive insulin, yet his autopsy revealed that he had received an insulin injection, which resulted in his death being ruled a homicide.
More shocking is the fact that McDermott was not the only elderly veteran who died as a result of insulin injections, which were not necessary nor ordered by the hospital. In fact, four others died at the same hospital in the two months following McDermott’s death, including two the very next day.
Currently, the investigation has revealed a person of interest and uncovered a suspicious death pattern. The person of interest has not yet been identified but was a former nursing assistant assigned to one-on-one bedside vigils during the overnight shift. The investigation found that the elderly veterans who died were all in private rooms, had received late night injections in the abdomen or limbs with insulin that the hospital had not ordered (some received multiple injections), and all had experienced plummeting blood sugar levels within hours of the injection.
Despite the fact that the investigation began in July of 2018, it is apparently still ongoing, and the person of interest has yet to be arrested. Currently, justice is now dependent on the VA inspector general’s independent investigation. But things might soon change as U.S. Senator Joe Machin of West Virginia is growing inpatient and contemplating opening a Senate investigation into these allegations.
While it is not typical to hear of such horror stories occurring at VA hospitals, the reality is that veterans who depend on the VA for care often receive substandard medical care, and that is a shame. The VA is the government’s second largest department, responsible for nearly 9 million military veterans, yet it is fraught with issues relating to competency of the staff and the standard of medical care being provided. It’s about time the VA starts providing adequate medical care to those who have fought for our country.