On Wednesday 28 September 2016, Justice RA Hulme of the Supreme Court of NSW found Gary Steven Davis, 29, guilty of murdering two residents and attempting to murder a third in October 2013 at a nursing home in Wallsend, NSW. Mr Davis was employed as an aged care nurse and ‘Team Leader’ at the home at the time the offences took place. Each victim was injected with a large amount of insulin.
Lucy Wilk, Senior Solicitor of Catherine Henry Lawyers acts for family members of two of Mr Davis’ victims who are preparing to sue the nursing home for negligence. It will be claimed that the nursing home was negligent in failing to ensure the safe storage and administration of insulin, failing to account for insulin stocks and administration and failing to ensure that staff followed the directive that only Registered Nurses were to administer injectable insulin.
Lucy attended the delivery of Justice Hulme’s reasons at the Supreme Court in Newcastle and said:
“His Honour’s findings are consistent with our clients’ instructions that the procedures with respect to the administration of medication at the home were deficient. Catherine Henry Lawyers and my clients hope that, by bringing claims in negligence, standards of care of residents of nursing homes will be improved such that proper systems are put in place with respect to the storage and administration of medications which, if not administered correctly, can have catastrophic consequences for residents and their families.”
In a meticulous judgment delivered over more than two hours to packed courtroom, Justice Hulme found that:
- There were no systems in place to account for insulin stocks or the administration of insulin other than what was noted by staff on individual patient medication charts.
- In early 2013, a directive was issued by the home to all staff which mandated that injectable insulin was to be administered by Registered Nurses only. Despite that directive, there were numerous instances when Mr Davis took it upon himself to inject patients with insulin despite being prohibited from doing so. Two of those occasions occurred during the week that the murders and attempted murder took place. There appeared to be no mechanisms in place to prevent a Team Leader from injecting insulin despite not being authorised to do so.
- Insulin was stored in an unlocked fridge in a treatment room. The treatment room had a door that was self-locking, however, the door was propped open at times.
The nursing home has acknowledged that its procedures with respect to the storage and administration of diabetic medication needed improvement. The home was audited by the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency in October 2015. The report prepared by the Agency with respect to the audit included the following:
Management [of the nursing home] identified the need to increase diabetic medication management monitoring processes. Improvements made include the introduction of a stock inventory list and administration signing sheet, and a requirement for two professional staff present for the administration of medication. These measures ensure diabetic medications are administered safely and correctly.
Lucy Wilk is a Senior Solicitor that practices exclusively in medical negligence. She has a special interest in aged care litigation and elder abuse and acts for all clients of Catherine Henry Lawyers that seek remedies for negligent treatment suffered by residents of nursing homes. Lucy also acts for clients that seek redress for negligent medical treatment in the areas of oncology, orthopaedics, gynaecological and colorectal surgery, neonatal medicine, paediatric medicine, infectious diseases, emergency medicine and gastroenterology.