Nurse denies giving lethal injection

Newstalk ZB staff,
Publish Date
Tuesday, 12 September 2017, 3:58p.m.
Medical experts and police "strongly" suspect nurse gave lethal injection (Getty)

UPDATED 6.05PM: Two of the three nurses suspected of giving a woman a fatal dose of insulin have given contradictory evidence during an inquest.


64-year-old Heather Bills died at Middlemore Hospital on January 2013 with high levels of insulin - despite not being diabetic.

Nurse Sharon Connors denies injecting Ms Bills.

She told the inquest everything seemed normal when she last checked on her.

But New Zealand Herald Court Reporter Sam Hurley told Chris Lynch a second nurse refuted that.

"Nurse Harmeet Sokhi said she could hear some alerts going on from inside the room that were loud enough to be heard from the corridor and these alerts were coming from the machines that were supposed to be monitoring Heather Bills".

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.

Yet it was not her burns injuries that killed her.

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.

But testifying on Tuesday, she denied doing so.

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.

"I am still shaken by this event," she said.

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.

However, Ms Sokhi denied ever speaking with Ms Bills about suicide.

"I've never had any conversation like that with her," she said.

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.

This delay cost Ms Bills her life, one medical expert testified.

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.

The inquest is set down for two weeks.

* Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline's 24-hour telephone counselling service on 0800 543 354.
Depression Helpline (8am to 12 midnight) - 0800 111 757
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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