Families of veterans who died suspicious deaths at VA hospital continue their wait

John Hallman

A third lawsuit has been filed in connection with a series of suspicious deaths at the Louis A. Johnson Veterans Hospital in Clarksburg.

Charleston Attorney Tony O’Dell filed the suit on behalf of family members of retired Navy Seaman John W. Hallman.

The Korean War veteran was admitted to the VA hospital June 12, 2018 with a suspected small bowel obstruction. His blood sugar levels were normal when he arrived, but they plummeted during the night and he suffered sudden and severe hypoglycemia. He died just before noon on the 13th.

O’Dell alleges in his suit that “an employee of the VAMC injected Mr. Hallman with insulin during the night shift of June 13, 2018.  No physician order was issued for the insulin injection.”

This should sound familiar.  There were at least 10 suspicious deaths at the VA hospital between 2017 and 2018 and the circumstances are remarkably similar.  Each patient was on floor 3A and each experienced crashing blood sugar levels before dying even though most had no history of diabetes.

The victims who have been identified publicly include Hallman, William Alfred Holloway, Felix Kirk McDermott, George Nelson Shaw and Archie Edgell.

Authorities have a “person of interest” in their investigation, a nursing assistant who worked on the floor who has been fired by the hospital.  No charges have been filed against the unidentified individual and U.S. Attorney Bill Powell said again just this week that the investigation is ongoing.

The Office of the Inspector General for the Veterans Administration has been investigating the deaths for two years, but the agency has not yet issued its findings.

This “person of interest” is clearly the focus of the investigation. However, O’Dell believes the hospital was slow to recognize the pattern of unexplained deaths.

O’Dell charges in his suit that the hospital “had a history of failing to identify, report and track sentinel events.”

“The hospital failures and those people that allowed all this to happen are still in place.  There’s been no accountability whatsoever at the VA and that’s really disturbing,” he said.

The VA investigations have largely faded from the news in recent months. There have been few new developments to report and other big stories have dominated.  However, it is important to remember that the families of those veterans are continuing their long wait for answers.





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