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Spangenberg Shibley & Liber LLP | Apr 18, 2019

Mount Carmel Health System Settles More Suits Over Excessive Dose Deaths

Categories: Medical Malpractice

Mount Carmel Health System reached two more settlements over wrongful death claims arising from the Ohio hospital system’s excessive dose scandal. According to court records, the settlements were reached on Monday May 6, 2019 in Franklin County.

The two wrongful death settlements now bring the total number of cases settled by Mount Carmel to five. There are still nearly over 20 wrongful death still pending.

The Case: ‘Excessive Dose’ Doctor

The settlements and pending wrongful death lawsuits stem from a January 2019 announcement in which the Columbus-based health system said it terminated 43-year-old Dr. William Husel in December over allegations that he ordered excessive amounts of painkiller medication at 2 separate hospitals during a 4-year period – at doses high enough to be potentially deadly for 29 of at least 35 patients.

The accusations rocked Ohio, as well as the many families whose loved ones had died while under the doctor’s care. Following the announcement, 28 civil wrongful death lawsuits were filed against the doctor and the health system. The two most recently settled included:

  • A settlement over the September 2014 death of a North Hilltop woman, in her 70s at Franklinton’s Mount Carmel West. Claims in the suit and Ohio Board of Nursing reports indicate the woman was administered 2 100mcg (microgram) doses of the powerful opioid fentanyl within 16 minutes. She died within 3 minutes following the second dose, with a death certificate listing the cause of death as septic shock caused by a UTI from E.coli.
  • A settlement over the October 2014 death of a 73-year-old woman who was also an intensive-care patient at Mount Carmel West. The claim alleged she was given one 200mcg dose of fentanyl, and died six minutes later. The death certificate listed septic shock from a UTI caused by kidney cancer / obesity.

Both lawsuits alleged the hospital’s electronic medical system should have alerted health-care providers of excessive medication doses, or that hospital staff ignored alerts. An investigation from the Ohio Health Department revealed staff overrode the electronic system in order to circumvent those alerts when administering painkillers to other patients.

The currently pending lawsuits indicate patients treated by Husel with fentanyl received anywhere where from the two 100mcg doses administered to the North Hilltop woman to a single 2,000mcg dose given to a woman in November 2018. Mount Carmel has since place nearly 50 hospital employees under review or on leave, and has updated its policies setting fentanyl dosage at 25 – 100mcg.

Medical Malpractice & Medication Errors

Mount Carmel may be facing considerable legal and regulatory woes, but the many families who’ve lost loved ones in unexpected and questionable ways have suffered profound and permanent losses. At Spangenberg Shibley & Liber LLP, our legal team has earned a reputation for representing clients in medical malpractice cases, and understand the importance of their fights for justice – both in terms of the sense of accountability it can provide, and the compensation it offers.

In order to hold negligent medical professionals, hospitals, and health systems liable for injuries and deaths caused by negligent or even intentional conduct, there are many challenges to overcome. From investigating and interpreting complex medical information to battling big health care companies and malpractice insurers that want nothing more than to minimize or avoid payouts, the hurdles in these claims can be significant. That’s especially true in cases involving medication errors, where multiple parties may be involved in the oversight and administration of potentially harmful drugs, as well as medication errors in nursing homes or hospitals that treat patients in vulnerable states of health.

If you or someone you love has questions about whether a recent experience involving injury, illness, or death may involve medical malpractice, our legal team is available to review and discuss your case. Contact us to request a free and confidential consultation.

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