23 staffers on leave at Mount Carmel in wake of fentanyl overdose scandal

File Photo - Mount Carmel West Hospital (AP Photo/Andrew Welsh Huggins)

COLUMBUS - Mount Carmel West hospital on Tuesday announced that it has now placed 23 members of its staff on leave -- including members of management -- in wake of the scandal there.

Thirty-four patients have been identified as having received potentially lethal doses of fentanyl. Twenty-eight of them, the hospital says, were given fatal doses. The other six, it says, received doses that went beyond providing comfort but likely died from other causes.

This afternoon, Chris Thomas, the son of 65-year old Jan Thomas spoke to reporters from the office of his attorney, David Shroyer.

“It's very disturbing. It hurts really bad. To have to relive this. My mom and I are very close. Just to have go through this a second time, is very very tough,” Thomas told reporters at times fighting back tears.

Thomas is believed to be among the first of the 34 patients to have received a potentially lethal dose of fentanyl.

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Her medical records show she received 800 micrograms of fentanyl while she was being removed from a ventilator, Shroyer said.

Shroyer alleges in wrongful death lawsuits that the actions of Dr. Husel and other caregivers hastened these patients’ deaths and that hospitals internal systems of checks and balances failed. He also has alleged that nurses and pharmacists should have challenged the doctor’s orders.

Jan Thomas died on March 1, 2015.

“The circumstances have obviously changed. My mom didn't actually pass she was actually murdered so it really hurts a lot more,” Thomas said.

Dr. William Husel has not been charged with a crime. Nor have any other caregivers from the hospital. The Columbus Division of Police and the Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office are investigating. So too is the Ohio Department of Health on behalf of CMS – the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Husel, along with Mount Carmel Health System and numerous nurses and pharmacists have been named in eight wrongful death lawsuits - accused of ordering or helping administer lethal doses of fentanyl.

Husel was fired by the hospital in December. His medical license was suspended on Friday.

He and his attorneys have declined to comment.

Shroyer has filed requests with the Franklin County Common Pleas Court to depose Dr. Husel and the Mount Carmel official who fired him.

Initially the hospital said that it placed 20 caregivers – including 14 nurses and 6 pharmacists on leave.

The hospital announced on Tuesday that three additional employees – including members of management have been placed on leave – bring the total to 23. A spokeswoman declined to answer who was placed on leave or what their positions are.

10 Investigates has also learned the identities of two other patients. Lora Stone, 78, and Corrinnia Blake, 55. Their attorney identified them to 10 Investigates by phone Tuesday and said both families had been contacted by the hospital. Wrongful death lawsuits for those patients are pending.