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Following an October 2018 report, Mount Carmel West Hospital found Dr. William Husel, an anesthesiologist and physician in the Intensive Care Unit, was overprescribing opioid painkillers to several patients. An investigation uncovered that the Mount Carmel doctor administered excessive amounts of fentanyl to at least 35 patients. Twenty-nine of the patients received potentially fatal doses of the drug under Dr. Husel’s orders. All of the patients have since passed away, and Mount Carmel Health System has stated Dr. Husel had the opportunity to help improve the condition of some of these patients.
The news is a grim reminder that medical malpractice can occur in any medical facility and at the hands of physicians who are respected and admired. If you believe your loved one was overprescribed pain medication and this contributed to your loved one’s drug dependency or death, contact an experienced Ohio personal injury attorney with Kisling, Nestico & Redick at 1-800-HURT-NOW .
Once the complaint against Dr. Husel was made, Mount Carmel, the Ohio Department of Health (ODH), and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) began investigations into the prescription of fentanyl and other painkillers at the facility. The ODH found the hospital failed to prevent patients from receiving an overdose.
Mount Carmel fired Dr. Husel at the beginning of 2019. Thirty staff members are on administrative leave while the internal investigation continues, and 18 staff members no longer work at the facility, including staff members who left over the years. The hospital also announced 48 nurses and pharmacists’ actions are under review and have been reported to the relevant licensing boards.
The Ohio Medical Board suspended Dr. Husel’s license, and he may face additional disciplinary actions. The Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office and the police are investigating the situation to determine if criminal charges against Husel or other staff members are appropriate.
Additionally, Husel, Mount Carmel, and other staff members at the facility have been named in 24 wrongful death lawsuits.
Over the years, pharmaceutical companies have developed more and stronger opioid painkillers, and physicians have prescribed them more often and in higher doses. Unfortunately, and unsurprisingly, the increase in opioid prescriptions across the country has contributed to the opioid epidemic.
Many people in the U.S. are suffering from opioid addiction, and thousands have lost their lives to opioid-related overdoses. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 68 percent of drug overdose deaths in 2017 involved an opioid. That same year, the number of overdose deaths involving opioids was six times higher than in 1999.
The CDC reports that opioid overdose deaths first rose in the 1990s. The second wage began in 2010, when there was an increase of heroin-related deaths. Fentanyl and other synthetic opioids are closely connected to the third wave of opioid overdose deaths starting in 2013.
Because of this epidemic, the medical community and state legislatures have started to tighten the reigns on how often and how much opioids physicians can prescribe. The guidelines physicians should follow to develop treatment plans for severe and chronic pain have evolved now that there is a better understanding of the dangers of overprescribing pain medications.
Doctors who inappropriately prescribe opioid pain medications may violate their duty of care. If these prescriptions cause a patient harm, the prescribing physician may face the consequences for medical negligence, including loss of employment, administrative sanctions, the loss of their license, medical malpractice claims, and even criminal charges.
If you are suffering from drug dependency or went through an overdose, or if a relative passed away from an opioid-related overdose, and you believe you or your loved one were overprescribed painkillers, contact our experienced legal team at Kisling, Nestico & Redick. We will thoroughly review your or your loved one’s medical records and consult with medical experts to determine if the prescribing physician violated their professional duty of care.