CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – The family of a veteran who was murdered at the Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center in Clarksburg is suing the federal government over his death.
Steven Edgell, son of Archie Edgell, who died in March 2018, is listed as the plaintiff in the lawsuit. The United States of America, through the United States Veterans Health Administration and the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, is the defendant in the case.
From this point, references to “Edgell” will refer to Archie Edgell.
The lawsuit states that Edgell was admitted to the VAMC on March 22, 2018 for issues related to dementia. Further, he had a medical history of Type 2 diabetes. On the day he was admitted, Edgell’s blood sugar was 165, and the physicians’ orders were that his diabetic medication was to be held, and he was not to be given insulin unless it was higher than 200.
Over the next 72 hours, Edgell’s blood sugar became unstable and “catastrophically low.” He also experienced multiple unexplained severe hypoglycemic events, the lawsuit explains. Edgell had not been given any prescribed insulin during this time. The lawsuit states that since Edgell had not been prescribed insulin, if his blood sugar had any significant movement, it should have been elevated.
The lawsuit claims that despite the fact that there was no legitimate reason for Edgell to have severe hypoglycemia, his healthcare providers made no effort to determine why his blood sugar had dropped so low. They also failed to make any effort to investigate whether Edgell had evidence of insulin in his body or bloodstream from an unknown or unauthorized source, according to court documents.
Throughout Edgell’s instances of hypoglycemia from March 24 until his death on March 26, the medical staff failed to properly treat him, the lawsuit claims. This, along with the failure to determine the condition’s cause, led to Edgell’s death, the plaintiff argues.
Moreover, the lawsuit claims that Edgell’s cause of death was listed as “advanced dementia,” which was erroneous and would have been recognized as such if healthcare providers had evaluated the care Edgell received at the hospital.
According to the lawsuit, it was not until November 2018 that the Officer of Inspector General requested permission from the Edgell family to exhume Edgell’s body to perform an autopsy. This was performed December 12, 2018, with the autopsy report completed June 25, 2019. This report was then amended April 1, 2020, according to court documents. The cause of Edgell’s death was listed as exogenous insulin administration, with the manner of death being homicide.
Among other claims, the lawsuit argues that the defendant was negligent by hiring Reta Mays without thoroughly vetting her personal and professional background, and that it failed to properly train and supervise her as a nursing assistant.
A fourth lawsuit was filed last week in relation to veteran deaths at the VAMC.
The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Clarksburg. The Edgell family is represented by Attorney Dino Colombo.