Attorneys for Mount Carmel families say settlement offers were “offensive”

File photo - Mount Carmel West (WBNS-10TV)

COLUMBUS - Attorneys representing 17 families of Mount Carmel patients tied to the overdose scandal say the hospital's insurance carrier offered the families settlements, but that they were "unreasonable, offensive and disrespectful of the impact and toll these deaths have had on the family members."

The law firm of Leeseberg & Valentine now says it plans to go forward with its full discovery with hopes of unearthing what happened and what exactly led to the deaths of 35 patients over a period of four years.

The law firm on Thursday shared with reporters detailed questions they plan to ask 37 hospital administrators and caregivers connected to the scandal.

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At its core, the attorneys want to know how this happened - how did 35 patients receive excessive doses of pain medications?

Their other questions center around who had oversight over Dr. William Husel and what mechanisms or oversights were in place to review how he gained access to the medications and who approved it.

During a January inspection of the Mount Carmel West, health inspectors acting on behalf of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have found that Husel used an override function on the hospital’s automated medication dispensing system to gain access to medications in 24 of the 27 patients cases they reviewed. That override function allowed Husel to bypass approval from the hospital’s pharmacy and gain access to a number of powerful pain medications including Fentanyl and other drugs like Versed and Dilaudid.

Nearly all of the patients impacted were on ventilators. And some families told 10 Investigates that they were told their loved ones were brain dead and were pressured to take them off life support. Civil attorneys have also alleged that some of the patients received paralytic drugs that would have given the appearance that some of the patients were unresponsive.

Mount Carmel Health System and its former doctor, William Husel, have been sued in 27 wrongful death lawsuits since 10 Investigates broke news of the scandal on January 14.

The hospital has said that 29 received potentially fatal doses and that six others received doses that went “beyond providing comfort” but likely were not the cause of their deaths.

Since making that announcement in February, Mount Carmel has since said that five of the patients may have seen their conditions improve with treatment.

Husel was fired in December after an internal investigation. His medical license and his provider agreement with the Ohio Department of Medicaid have been suspended. He has declined to comment but his attorney has previously said he plans to defend him against the allegations.

The Columbus Division of Police and Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office have said that there is an ongoing investigation.

When asked for comment, Mount Carmel sent the following statement to 10TV attributed to Edward Lamb, President & CEO:

“Mount Carmel is committed to doing what is right and fair throughout our community, including our interactions with families involved in cases related to Dr. Husel. As we continue the legal process with these families, we will not publicly discuss our conversations and related actions in detail. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with them and everyone affected by this tragedy.”