CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Retired Air Force Senior Master Sergeant George Shaw would probably be alive today if his family had been warned about prior mysterious deaths at the veterans hospital in Clarksburg, according to a notice of claim filed by Shaw’s family.
Shaw, who died at age 81, is one of about 10 suspicious deaths at the Veterans Administration hospital in Clarksburg. His family has now filed a claim over his death with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
“If the VA Medical Center had properly warned Ret. SMSgt. Shaw or his family they could have made an informed choice about whether to seek care at that facility,” the claim states.
“Due to the negligent concealment of those other suspicious deaths and information, neither Ret. SMSGt. Shaw or his family had an opportunity to choose.”
This is the second known notice of claim to be filed over the series of deaths at the Louis A. Johnson Medical Center, although more seem certain to come. Attorney David Glover is representing the Shaws.
“This gentleman wasn’t supposed to die, and he died at the hands of the VA hospital,” Glover said today on MetroNews’ “Talkline.”
David Glover talks with @HoppyKercheval about the Shaw family filing a notice for the intent to sue the VA after the homicide of veteran George Shaw. WATCH: https://t.co/wkudfIAoe1 pic.twitter.com/cROfcS6d6c
— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) September 20, 2019
The other claim was filed by the family of retired U.S. Army Sgt. Felix McDermott. That family’s lawyer, Tony O’Dell, has that case and six others.
And another lawyer, Dino Colombo, came forward this week as counsel for the family of Army veteran Archie D. Edgell of Barbour County.
Like the others, Shaw is believed to have died from crashing blood sugar that resulted from unprescribed insulin injections. He was not diabetic and his time at the hospital should not have required insulin.
Instead, on March 22, 2018, he was not feeling well and wanted to be checked out. He was examined, admitted and his health seemed to be improving.
But on the morning of March 26 his blood sugar crashed. He was transferred back and forth from the medical center to a nearby nursing home and then to the VA again. On April 5, he was placed on comfort care measures at the VA hospital.
“SMSGT Shaw died a very painful death from severe hypoglycemia at roughly 8:23 a.m. on the morning of April 10, 2018,” according to the claim.
But at that point, his family still didn’t know the cause of death or many of the other circumstances.
“At the time of Ret. SMSgt. Shaw’s death, nobody at the VA Medical Center told his family about the sudden and unexplained hypoglycemia that caused his death,” the claim states.
“Moreover, the family members were not told that, prior to Ret. SMSgt. Shaw’s death, 9 or 10 other patients at the VA Medical Center had suffered similar unexplained deaths due to the sudden onset of unexplained medical conditions.”
But the family wondered enough to request an autopsy, which concluded he had died of congestive heart failure.
The truth began to come to light months later when investigators with the VA’s Office of Inspector General contacted Shaw’s wife, Norma, and told her about the earlier deaths.
The Shaw family gave permission to perform an exhumation and another autopsy. The autopsy at Dover Air Force Base revealed four injections with evidence of insulin. The insulin is what killed Shaw, the autopsy concluded.
“Based on the investigative and autopsy findings, the manner of death is homicide,” the autopsy stated.
“If the medical examiner’s conclusion is correct, Ret. SMSgt. Shaw was murdered while he was in the care and custody of the Louis A. Johnson Medical Center, despite the VA Medical Center being on notice of the previous wrongful injections,” the Shaw family’s claim states.
The FBI and the VA’s Inspector General have continued to investigate. The Shaw family, like others, has been told of a person of interest in the case, but no name has been revealed.
The Shaw family contends the VA should have done a better job screening its employees, keeping control of its medications, making sure patients would be safe and warning families of any concerns.
Veterans expected better care following their military service, the Shaw family contends.
“The VA Medical Center had a special relationship with its veteran patients that created an affirmative duty to protect those patients from reasonably foreseeable harm,” the Shaw family’s claim states.