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Plenty To Learn From VA Case

Perhaps taking advantage of the craze for true-crime podcasts and forensics documentary series, federal prosecutors in West Virginia have decided to host a conference this month to discuss the methods used to convict a former nursing assistant in the deaths of numerous patients at Louis A. Johnson VA Medical Center in Clarksburg.

Reta Mays intentionally injected patients with unprescribed insulin. She was sentenced to seven consecutive life terms in prison earlier this year. A federal judge called her “the monster that no one sees coming.”

Except, of course, plenty of people probably did see her coming; and there are questions about why she was in a position to commit her crimes, no one flagged what she was doing, and no one was able to stop her.

At West Virginia University’s law school in Morgantown, attendees will learn about the clinical, forensic, psychiatry and legal prosecution techniques in the criminal case. It will, no doubt, be fascinating.

Meanwhile, veterans and their families still want a clearer idea of how many people dropped the ball in making sure we never got to this point. What is being done to examine the work culture that provided the opportunity for Mays to kill? Have administrators taken enough responsibility to ensure better communication and accountability? Can they assure worried patients and family members that such a tragedy could not occur again?

While we’re learning all we can about the Mays case, let’s be sure the Veterans Administration has figured out why they didn’t see this particular monster coming; and how to stop the next one.


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