Mount Carmel Doctor Administers Potentially Fatal Drug Doses to Thirty-Four Patients
According to the Columbus Dispatch, Dr. William Husel of Mount Carmel Hospital in Columbus, Ohio has given at least 34 near-death patients potentially fatal doses of fentanyl from 2015 to 2018. So far, at least eight lawsuits have been filed for wrongful death and negligence against Dr. Husel and the Mount Carmel Hospital.
The patients affected were taken to the ICU for a variety of reasons; from gallstones to respiratory problems. Many families of the affected victims claimed that their loved ones were not terminally ill nor did they consent to the high dosage of fentanyl given by Dr. Husel. The youngest known victim died when he was just 37-years-old.
What is Fentanyl?
Fentanyl is a narcotic or opiate drug. When used properly in medical settings, it can control moderate to severe pain a patient may have. However, fentanyl is one of the strongest opiates known to man and can very easily lead to overdoses- even in the smallest amounts. To put it in context, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), fentanyl is up to 100 times stronger than morphine and many times stronger than heroin.
Mount Carmel Hospital Negligence
Mount Carmel publically recognized that the doses administered by Dr. Husel were much larger than necessary to provide comfort for near-death patients. Although investigations are still underway relating to the intention of the fatal doses and whether or not they were purposely administered to speed up patient death, the approval for these high doses should have never happened.
“Regardless of the reason the actions were taken, we take responsibility for the fact that the processes in place were not sufficient to prevent these actions from happening.” – Ed Lamb, Mount Carmel President and CEO
The hospital released a public statement apologizing to the public and the affected families, claiming “We will learn from this, and we will do better—because our patients and their families deserve our very best”. The statement included plans to increase education on end-of-life care, set new protocol to set maximum appropriate painkiller doses, and require additional approval from clinical leadership on these issues. They also claimed that 20 members of the hospital’s staff were removed while additional facts are gathered about each case.
According to the Dispatch, evidence shows that in one case, Dr. Husel administered 1,000 micrograms of fentanyl to 79-year-old Janet Kavanaugh. Just 18 minutes later the prescription, Janet was pronounced dead. According to a critical-care professor, the amount of fentanyl given was so high that it appears his intent was to speed up her death.
“To give 1,000 (micrograms) is so far above and beyond what we would ever give that it is clear there the intent is to accelerate the death.” -Dr. E. Wes Ely, Vanderbilt University Critial Care Professor
In another case, Bonnie Austin died around 30-minutes after Dr. Husel unlawfully administered a 600-microgram dose of fentanyl. Bonnie, age 64, was taken into the hospital after experiencing chest pains and trouble breathing earlier that day. After stabilizing her heart in the emergency room, Bonnie was sent to the ICU to recover. The ER doctor told husband, David Austin, that she was stable and should fully recover. A short time later, Dr. Husel came out of the ICU to inform David that his wife was now brain dead and asked if he wanted to withdrawal care and pull the plug. David was confused, but initially trusted the doctor and decided to end his wife’s care.
What David didn’t know is that the lethal dose of fentanyl was administered five minutes before he agreed to remove life-support.
Tragic Results from Doctor and Hospital Negligence
Unfortunately, cases like Dr. Husel’s are observed all over the country. In a national debate over physician-assisted death, discussions are being had about doctor’s prescribing fatal doses of medicine to terminally ill or near-death patients.
If you or a loved one has fallen victim to a fatal drug dose administered by Dr. William Husel, Mount Carmel, or another hospital or health care provider, you must act fast. Please give us a call at (216)-285-9991 or fill out a contact form to speak with an attorney immediately.