Mount Carmel: 5 patients who died under former physician's care may have lived if given right treatment

At least five patients who died under the care of a former physician at Columbus, Ohio-based Mount Carmel Health System may have survived if they had received the correct treatment, health system officials told The Columbus Dispatch.

The five patients are among nearly three dozen intensive-care patients who died after receiving excessive painkillers doses ordered by William Husel, MD, hospital officials said. Dr. Husel was fired from the hospital in December.

"We [are continuing to review] the records of all patients who were treated by Dr. Husel and died in the hospital," said Ed Lamb, president and CEO of Mount Carmel Health System. "At this point, we have identified one additional patient who received an excessive and potentially fatal dose of medication ordered by Dr. Husel."

That brings the number of patients involved to at least 35, including at least 29 who received a potentially fatal dose of medication ordered by Dr. Husel.

A review of patient records and the care they received found five of these patients may have survived if given the right treatment, said Dan Roth, MD, executive vice president and chief clinical officer for Livonia, Mich.-based Trinity Health, Mount Carmel's parent company.

The health system had previously indicated that all of the patients were near death. On Feb. 22, Dr. Roth described the patients as being "critically ill."

Since the investigation, Mount Carmel has added a new protocol to set maximum appropriate doses for pain medication in its EMR; implemented a new escalation policy for deviations in its pain medication protocols; restricted the ability to bypass pharmacy review of medication orders; and increased clinician education on end-of-life care practices.

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