Wrongful death suit accuses SLO care facility of overdosing diabetic woman with insulin

An elderly woman died after a San Luis Obispo nursing facility administered too much insulin to her, according to a wrongful death lawsuit filed on Wednesday by the woman’s family. [KSBY]

In Aug. 2017, Kathleen Hutchinson, 85, when she moved into the Bella Vista Transitional Care Center on Augusta Street. Because she suffered from dementia and diabetes, the caregivers were under a doctor’s order to test Hutchinson’s blood sugar daily and administer insulin as needed throughout the day, according to the suit.

On April 27, 2018, Hutchinson’s blood sugar reading came back dangerously high, the lawsuit states. A doctor directed Bella Vista staffers to administer additional insulin and check Hutchinson’s blood sugar after one hour. 

The suit alleges Bella Vista staffers administered four large doses over the course of about four hours with little to no regard for timing or consideration of her new blood sugar levels. When a shift change occurred, the night staff allegedly failed to relay crucial information about Hutchinson’s condition to the staffers who arrived in the morning.

Later in the morning, Hutchinson was found not breathing and with a blood sugar level that was too low to produce a reading, according to the suit.

Greg Johnson, the attorney for Hutchinson’s family, said Johnson did not die from diabetes, and her death was preventable. Hutchinson may have only had five years left to live, but it was her five years to live, Johnson said.

Bella Vista Operations Manager Najib Yamak said in a statement that special protocols are in place to ensure medication is administered properly. 

“Bella Vista generally has protocols in place relative to medication administration to ensure that this process is carried out in a clinically appropriate manner and consistent with the existing orders of the resident’s physician,” Yamak said.

Since 2016, 107 complaints and incidents related to Bella Vista have been filed with the California Department of Health and Human Services. State investigators have substantiated 16 of the claims, including the complaint filed over Hutchinson’s death.

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