The Tribune reported on the lawsuit filed against Bella Vista Transitional Care Center for the neglect and wrongful death of resident Kathleen Hutchinson. Hutchinson died in April 2018 after she was incorrectly given four doses of diabetes medication during a three-and-a-half-hour period.
She was a patient at Bella Vista for about eight months prior to her death and relied on facility staff for help with nearly all of her daily living activities, according to the lawsuit. The facility had four different administrators during Hutchinson’s eight months as a patient at Bella Vista.
On the day of her death, Hutchinson’s blood sugar was taken at 5:35 a.m. and was found to be dangerously high, prompting a doctor to order 10 units of insulin be administered. Hutchinson’s blood sugar was to be rechecked an hour later.
At 6:06 a.m., additional insulin was administered per Hutchinson’s typical medication schedule, in spite of the fact she’d received a previous dose about half an hour before.
Hutchinson was given more insulin at 7 a.m. after a staff member told the doctor a blood sugar reading taken at 6:06 a.m. showed her levels were still too high.
She was then given a dose of Metformin, a diabetes medication taken in conjunction with insulin, at 8 a.m., per her typical schedule.
At 9:40 a.m., Hutchinson was found not breathing and covered in vomit. Her blood sugar was so low the blood sugar monitor couldn’t read it. Two minutes later, she was pronounced dead.
The lawsuit claims Hutchinson died because staff followed her usual medication schedule on top of doctor-specified doses tailored to her condition the morning of her death. These errors occurred due to Bella Vista’s understaffing issues according to the complaint.
A Department of Public Health (DPH) investigation into Bella Vista following Hutchinson’s death concluded the facility “(failed) to meet the professional standards of quality in providing care pursuant to care plans and treatment orders,” according to the lawsuit.
DPH also previously cited Bella Vista for failing to meet minimum staffing requirements, failing to ensure call lights were in reach of residents, failing to provide showers and asking certified nursing assistants to perform nursing assessments beyond their scope.