Bill Nutter, a distinguished Vietnam veteran and retired police detective, died when the nurse’s aide assigned to monitor his condition failed to check on him because she was distracted playing video games. Nutter suffered from cardiac arrest during the night, but his passing wasn’t discovered until the next morning due to the night shift nurse’s failure to provide prescribed care.
As reported by the Boston Globe, Nutter’s wife Carol was initially told that his heart stopped in the middle of the night and that little could have been done to revive him.
Nutter suffered from numerous health conditions. He had lost both of his legs due to complications from diabetes and suffered from the aftereffects of being exposed to Agent Orange during his time in Vietnam that put him at risk of sudden cardiac arrest.
Carol had found a bed for Nutter at the Bedford VA Medical Center and was assured that he would be cared for by the hospital’s staff.
After Nutter’s death, Carol was eventually informed that Patricia Waible, the nurse’s aide who was supposed to check on Nutter hourly, failed to check in on him at all during his shift. Instead, she actually spent her shift playing video games on her computer.
According to the Daily Mail, video emerged showed that Waible did not make the proper checks, even though she initially claimed to have done so. After discovering Nutter passed away, Waible also, according to the hospital’s internal report, relayed that information by making a crude gesture that mimicked a slit throat.
The VA inspector general has opened a criminal investigation into the events and is working with the FBI and the US attorney’s office to identify what actions led to Nutter’s death.
Families and whistleblowers have repeatedly made claims about issues with care at the Bedford VA, a five-star rated VA facility, including reports of relatively healthy patients suddenly deteriorating after being admitted and long-term care recipients going hours without food and being left in soiled clothing.
Dr. David Shulkin, the Veterans Affairs Secretary, released a statement saying it “will hold employees accountable when the facts demonstrate that they have failed to live up to the high standards taxpayers expect from us.”
Multiple Massachusetts politicians have chimed in on the issue, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who called the situation “a disgrace” and stated, “Our veterans deserve better. I’ll be demanding answers and accountability from @DeptVetAffairs.”
Carol is considering taking legal action against the hospital based on the revelations in the Boston Globe report.