CNN Reports on a DKA Death

The two-part report profiles the death of Kevin Houdeshell from lack of insulin, and his family’s efforts to prevent similar deaths.



CNN recently featured a two-part report about the death of Kevin Houdeshell and the law that was passed in his memory.


The report interviewed Kevin’s family about the days leading up to his death. Kevin, who was diagnosed with an unspecified form of diabetes as an adult, was found dead from diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) shortly on January 8th, 2014. A doctor told the Houdeshells that it appeared as if Kevin must have been non-compliant in following his insulin therapy. That didn’t make sense to his family, as they said he was always on top of his blood sugar management.

After some investigation, it was discovered that Kevin had been denied a refill of insulin over the New Year’s holiday because his prescription had run out, and he couldn’t reach his doctor’s office to have it reauthorized.

Kevin didn’t appear to seek over-the-counter insulin at Walmart or at the emergency room. His parents believe his judgement might have been impaired by high blood sugar. When the symptoms of ketoacidosis set in, Kevin mistook the symptoms for stomach flu, and he was sent home from work. He died alone at home.

In their grief, the Houdeshells worked with lawmakers and Ohio’s pharmacists to change state law in a way that now allows pharmacists to dispense emergency insulin in certain situations. A similar law later passed in Florida. The Houdeshells now want Ohio lawmakers to mandate screening for Type 1 diabetes at well-child visits.

You can learn more about Kevin’s story here:
Death by Expired Insulin Prescription.

And the law passed in the wake of Kevin’s death here:
Ohio Bill to Safeguard Insulin Access Passes.

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Craig Idlebrook is managing editor for Insulin Nation and Type 2 Nation. He's written about health policy, environmental health, community health, and maternal health for over 25 publications. You can reach him at cidlebrook@epscomm.com.