Attorneys: November 2018 death of Mount Carmel patient may have triggered hospital investigation

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COLUMBUS — The latest wrongful death lawsuit filed involving Mount Carmel alleges that a patient who died on Nov. 20, 2018 triggered the hospital’s internal investigation.

The law firm of Leeseberg & Valentine released this statement Wednesday afternoon:

“Melissa died at Mount Carmel West on November 20, 2018, at 10:53 PM, after receiving a 2,000 mcg dose of Fentanyl ordered by Dr. Husel, approved by pharmacist Gregory White, and administered by nurse Wesley Black. After this death, Dr. Husel was apparently escorted out of the hospital and was removed from any further patient care at Mount Carmel.

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When speaking with Mount Carmel administrators on January 14, 2019, Melissa’s husband was told “your wife’s death prompted our investigation.” Of course, Mount Carmel has indicated it received formal reports about Dr. Husel’s care on at least two prior occasions. It does not appear any action was taken to prevent the 2,000 mcg lethal dose of Fentanyl from being provided to Ms. Penix. “

That revelation is troubling to civil attorneys representing patient families because three patients died between October 25, 2018 - when the hospital said it first became aware of concerns with Dr. William Husel’s patient care - and Nov. 21, 2018 when the hospital removed Husel from patient care.

The latest lawsuit also alleges that the 82-year-old woman received 2,000 micrograms of fentanyl - the largest dose known to date of the 34 patients who the hospital says were given potentially lethal doses.

There is still debate about what can be considered a lethal dose. Civil attorneys point to their own physicians who’ve been hired to testify and state that 400 or 500 micrograms can be lethal. But 10 Investigates has also spoken to a source inside the hospital who alleges that amount depends not only on how much is given, but also in what period of time. The patient’s respiratory function would also play a role.

The family of Melissa Penix released this statement:

Our family is immensely disappointed in the tragic choices of Dr. William Husel, the nurses, pharmacists, and leadership of Mount Carmel Health System. Melissa, affectionately known as Mel or Meemaw, was a devoted Christian, a wife of more than 65 years, a mother to all who graced her home, a loving and laughing grandmother, and cookie giving, color-right-along-with-you great grandmother. She was rooted in her faith and family – a legacy of love that will live on long after her time with us. The family kindly requests the respect of their privacy during this time of mourning.

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