The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently announced the “third wave of the nation’s opioid epidemic” has begun. While the first wave revolved around OxyContin, and the second around heroin, the CDC said this third wave is characterized by a rapid increase in fentanyl abuse.

As National Public Radio noted, “Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid that can shut down breathing in less than a minute, and its popularity in the U.S. began to surge at the end of 2013.”

Doctor Takes the Fifth Before Medical Board, Claims “Immunity” from Malpractice Claims

Here in Ohio, fentanyl abuse has made headlines recently due to several dozen allegations of medical malpractice against a Franklin County doctor accused of “ordering excessive doses” of the drug and killing patients.

Back in December, Mount Carmel Health System fired Dr. William Husel after determining he “ordered excessive painkiller doses for 35 ICU patients dating back to at least 2015, with 29 of the doses potentially fatal,” according to the Columbus Dispatch. The hospital acknowledged that all of the patients eventually died, but 5 of them could have survived had they received “proper care.” As of March 19, 2019, there have been 26 wrongful death and medical malpractice lawsuits filed against Mount Carmel and Dr. Husel, according to the Dispatch.

Separately, the State Medical Board of Ohio suspended Dr. Husel’s license to practice medicine on January 25, 2019. In its letter to Husel, the Board cited the results of Mount Carmel’s investigation as well as several specific cases from 2018. In both cases, the Board said Husel “ordered, personally administered, or caused to be administered, inappropriate and excessive doses” of fentanyl. And when questioned about the proper use and dosage of fentanyl, the Board noted Husel repeatedly “asserted your Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.”

In a follow-up notice issued on February 13, the Board said it would consider additional action against Husel, which could include permanently revoking his medical license.

Meanwhile, in the various malpractice cases, Husel’s attorneys argued in court papers their client is “immune” from lawsuit under Ohio law. Specifically, the state grants immunity to an “attending physician” from civil damages “for actions taken in good faith and in reliance on a health care decision” under certain conditions, including situations where the patient is “in a terminal condition or in a permanently unconscious state,” and there is “no reasonable possibility” of recovery.

Contact the Cleveland Medical Malpractice Lawyers at Tittle & Perlmuter Today

It may take several years for the Ohio courts to sort out the legal fallout of Mount Carmel’s admissions and Dr. Husel’s alleged malpractice. High-profile cases like these also illustrate the critical importance of working with an experienced Cleveland medical malpractice attorney. If you, or a loved one, have been harmed due to a doctor or hospital’s negligence, contact the offices of Tittle & Perlmuter today at (216) 308-1522 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with a member of our medical malpractice legal team today.

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