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Nurse denies giving Bills lethal injection

12 September 2017 3:07 AM
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An Auckland nurse has told a coroner's inquest she did not give a large dose of insulin to a patient, which is suspected of ultimately killing her.

An Auckland nurse suspected by police of giving a lethal dose of insulin to a patient denies injecting her, a coroner's inquest has heard.

Heather Ann Bills died in Middlemore Hospital in January 2013, just six weeks after being rescued from the flames of an explosive fire at her Orakei home.

Instead, an inquest into her death has been considering whether she was killed or assisted to commit suicide.

Medical experts and police "strongly" suspect Ms Bills was injected with a large dose of insulin that sent her into a hypoglycaemic attack, ultimately killing her.

Nurse Harmeet Sokhi was one of three suspects police identified as possibly administering the lethal dose.

She said she tried her best to care for Ms Bills and was shocked by how she became seriously and unexpectedly ill on December 27 while Ms Sokhi was her primary nurse.

Ms Bills was having suicidal thoughts at the time and rumours were circulating among hospital staff she was offering staff money to help her commit suicide, the inquest has already heard.

A police investigation undertaken after her death also concluded Ms Bills ended up in Middlemore Hospital in November because she planned to burn her house down before attempting suicide, but instead got caught in the explosion.

Ms Sokhi said she did not talk often with Ms Bills as she had only been her primary nurse about two or three times, although medical records showed she had acted as her primary nurse on eight occasions.

The inquest is also considering whether hospital staff were negligent, because they twice failed to spot test results showing her hypoglycaemia.

Ms Sokhi told the inquest she used a glucometer to test Ms Bills' blood glucose levels at the same time as a separate test using another method also recorded Ms Bills' glucose levels.

But where as Ms Sokhi said she got a normal blood glucose reading, the other test showed Ms Bills had extremely low levels causing hypoglycaemia.

Ms Sokhi said as a result of her test - which no other staff member saw her take - she told doctors Ms Bills' blood sugar levels were normal.

An intensive care doctor earlier testified that because he had been verbally told Ms Bills had normal glucose levels, he failed to notice the test results contradicting this.

* Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline's 24-hour telephone counselling service on 0800 543 354.

Suicide Crisis Helpline (aimed at those in distress, or those who are concerned about the wellbeing of someone else) - 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)


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