Washington Post: Grand Jury Convened to Probe Insulin Deaths at W. Virginia VA Hospital

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Health Editor’s Note: I would wonder why this investigation has taken so long (18 months.) How despicable that someone who is trusted to give medical care would seek to kill those he or she is taking care of. No mistakes were made in dosage since most of those dead did not even have diabetes and would have had no medical need for injected insulin….Carol

The Washington Post’s Lisa Rein and Matt Zapotosky report: Federal prosecutors have begun presenting evidence to a grand jury in their criminal probe of at least 11 deaths suspected of being linked to improper insulin injections at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Clarksburg, W.Va., a sign that the 18-month investigation is intensifying, according to two people familiar with the matter.

The closed-door deliberations at the federal courthouse in Clarksburg began in early January with testimony from nurses and other medical professionals about the actions of the person of interest in the case, a former nursing assistant at the hospital who worked the overnight shift, the people said. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.
Investigators think she gave the elderly veterans, most of whom were not diabetic, multiple, unauthorized injections of insulin that led to their deaths of severe hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar.
 
 
Excerpts:
  • Attorney General William P. Barr has at least twice since August called the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of West Virginia, Trump-appointee Bill Powell, to ask about the status of the investigation. Such an inquiry from the top U.S. law enforcement official is unusual — particularly given the volume of politically sensitive matters on Barr’s plate, including the investigation of Trump lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, the review of how the FBI began its 2016 probe of the Trump campaign and the inquiry into the death in federal custody of multimillionaire sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. Barr, though, is known as an unusually hands-on attorney general.
  • In Clarksburg, prosecutors have focused from the start on one person, according to people familiar with the case. She was assigned to monitor the veterans who died in what is known as one-on-one bedside vigils for patients who need extra attention. She was fired from the hospital last year, seven months after being removed from patient care. The Post is not naming the woman because she has not been charged. She is now doing temporary work for a local construction company, a person familiar with her status said. Investigators have interviewed her multiple times, officials said.
  • Despite these common denominators, the medical staff and those with oversight of hospital procedures failed to identify a pattern for months. After the bodies were exhumed, three deaths were ruled a homicide by insulin injection, according to people familiar with the investigation. The armed forces deputy medical examiner changed the death certificates of the others from “natural causes” to “undetermined,” according to autopsy reports and people familiar with the case.

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