Physician gave excessive pain meds to 27 patients, Ohio system says

An internal investigation revealed a former physician at Columbus, Ohio-based Mount Carmel Health System ordered excessive and potentially fatal pain medication doses for at least 27 patients who were near death between 2015-18, according to The Columbus Dispatch.

Five things to know:

1. William Husel, MD, had worked as an intensive care physician at the system since 2013. Upon learning of the medication incidents, Mount Carmel fired Dr. Husel and sent details of its internal investigation to authorities, Mount Carmel President and CEO Ed Lamb said in a Jan. 14 statement.

2. The families of patients involved requested that lifesaving measures be stopped, but the amount of painkillers prescribed was beyond what was needed to provide comfort, according to the health system.

"The actions instigated by this doctor were unacceptable and inconsistent with the values and practices of Mount Carmel, regardless of the reasons the actions were taken," Mr. Lamb said in the statement. "We take responsibility for the fact that the processes in place were not sufficient to prevent these actions from happening."

3. Along with Dr. Husel's firing, Mount Carmel also placed 20 employees on administrative leave, including pharmacists involved with related patient care and nurses who administered the medication. Only one physician was involved, the health system said.

4. Mount Carmel released the statement the same day a lawsuit was filed over the 2017 death of a 79-year-old patient who was allegedly given a fatal dose of fentanyl at Mount Carmel West hospital in Columbus. The suit names Mount Carmel, Dr. Husel, a nurse and a pharmacist at the health system as defendants.

5. The Dispatch was not able to reach Dr. Husel or the nurse named in the lawsuit. The pharmacist named in the lawsuit declined to comment.

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