Authorities are investigating the deaths of 10 patients – including one that was ruled a homicide – at a Veterans Affairs hospital in West Virginia.
One of those patients was 82-year-old Felix ‘Kirk’ McDermott, an Army veteran, who died in April 2018 at the Louis A Johnson VA Medical Center in Clarksburg.
A medical examiner performed an autopsy and determined McDermott’s cause of death was an injection of insulin into his abdomen, which can kill someone who is not diabetic, reported USA TODAY.
In fact, all ten patients received large and wrongful injections of insulin.
Investigators say they have identified a ‘person of interest’ but it is not clear if that person is or was a hospital employee.
Authorities are investigating the deaths of 10 patients – including one that was ruled a homicide – at a Veterans Affairs hospital in West Virginia (pictured)
USA TODAY reported that according to McDermott’s medical records, he didn’t have a history of diabetes.
According to the autopsy report, his blood sugar levels dropped dangerously low and he died several hours later.
The medical examiner ruled his death a ‘homicide.’
McDermott’s daughter, Melanie Proctor, told USA TODAY that her father had several health issues including dementia, heart disease, hypertension and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
He was admitted to the hospital with pneumonia three days before he died after accidentally aspirating food into his lungs.
After he passed away, Proctor said hospital staff made it seem as though his death was linked to his health problems.
She only learned that his death may not have been from natural causes after FBI agents visited her at home to discuss her father’s death.
She gave the Veterans Affairs’ Office of Inspector General permission to exhume his body in October 2018, reported USA TODAY.
That’s when an autopsy found an insulin injection site on McDermott’s left side.
If a non-diabetic receives an insulin injection, the excess insulin can cause the body to absorb too much sugar from the body, leading to dangerously low blood sugar levels that cause death.
‘It’s just not right. I thought my dad was safe there,’ Proctor told USA TODAY. ‘I expected him to be taken care of, especially somebody with dementia that can’t talk for themselves.’
Law firm Tiano O’Dell, which is representing Proctor, filed an administrative wrongful death claim, with the US Department of Veterans Affairs last week.
According to the claim, nine or 10 patients died ‘as a result of unexplained severe low blood sugar’ after receiving a large injection of insulin in the abdomen that ‘was neither ordered by a doctor or medically necessary.’
The claim, which is a six-month notice of an upcoming lawsuit, is seeking damages of $1million for personal injury and $5million for wrongful death.
The law firm did not immediately return DailyMail.com’s request for comment.
The news reached the office of West Virginia US Senator Joe Manchin, who said he spoke to Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie and the VA hospital’s director, Dr Glenn Snider.
‘I was…assured by both Secretary Wilkie and Dr. Snider that the person of interest is no longer in any contact with veterans at the VA facility,’ Manchin said in a statement on Monday.
‘These crimes shock the conscience, and I’m still appalled they were not only committed, but that our veterans, who have sacrificed so much for our country, were the victims.
Proctor told USA TODAY her dad was living at the VA nursing home on the VA medical center’s campus before he was admitted to the hospital.
McDermott retied from the US Army as a sergeant major after 20 years of service, some of which was spent in Vietnam. After retiring, he served with the Pennsylvania National Guard.
He loved eating chocolate and was described as having a ‘wicked sense of humor’.
Proctor said she hopes the lawsuit leads to large-scale reform of Veterans Affairs.
‘I don’t know what happened to set this chain off, so I can’t even say what needs to be improved upon at this point,’ she told the newspaper. ‘[But] it shouldn’t happen to any other families.’