Second lawsuit filed against Ohio health system, physician charged with ordering fatal pain med doses

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A second lawsuit was filed against Columbus, Ohio-based Mount Carmel Health System and one of its former physicians after an internal investigation revealed the physician ordered excessive and potentially fatal pain medication doses for at least 27 patients 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 him and sent details of its internal investigation to authorities, Mount Carmel President and CEO Ed Lamb said Jan. 14.

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.

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.

3. David Austin was the second to file a wrongful death and negligence lawsuit this week against Dr. Husel and Mount Carmel after the health system told him 27 people could have received an overdose ordered by Dr. Husel.

Mr. Austin's wife, Bonnie Austin, died at Columbus-based Mount Carmel West Sept. 30, 2018, after Dr. Husel ordered a 600-microgram dose of fentanyl and a large dose of anti-anxiety medication through her IV. Ms. Austin had arrived at the hospital less than five hours earlier after having chest pains and trouble breathing, the lawsuit says.

4. According to the other lawsuit filed Jan. 14 against Mount Carmel, Dr. Husel and others, Dr. Husel prescribed 1,000 micrograms of fentanyl to 79-year-old Janet Kavanaugh on Dec. 11, 2017 — 18 minutes before she was pronounced dead at Mount Carmel West.

5. In response to the investigation, Mount Carmel officials said they increased education on end-of-life care, implemented an additional protocol to set maximum appropriate painkiller doses in their EMR system and are requiring approval from clinical leadership if any deviation occurs.

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