Family identifies Mount Carmel St. Ann’s patient given excessive dose of fentanyl

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COLUMBUS (WBNS) – The family of a former Upper Sandusky educator and coach has identified him as the sole Mount Carmel St. Ann’s patient who received an excessive dose of pain medication stemming from the patient dosing scandal.

Robert Lee, 70, passed away on October 13, 2017, at Mount Carmel St. Ann’s in Westerville.

The other 34 patients who are believed to have received excessive doses of pain medication between 2014 and 2018 were at Mount Carmel West.

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10 Investigates received this statement from Lee’s family:

“Robert P. Lee of Upper Sandusky, Ohio died at Mt. Carmel-St. Ann’s Hospital in Westerville on October 13, 2017. The family learned later that Dr. William Husel had ordered a lethal dose of Fentanyl, which was the immediate cause of Robert’s death. We were deeply saddened by this shocking news and the circumstances surrounding Robert’s death. This has brought back the pain of Robert’s death and has left us wondering how and why this could have happened. Robert is sorely missed by his family, friends, and the Upper Sandusky community. Along with other families affected by Dr. Husel’s conduct, the Lee family grieves with the other families impacted by what happened within the Mt. Carmel Health System. We ask for respect and privacy during this difficult time.”

Lee, who taught and coached at Upper Sandusky High School, has a distinguished alumni award named in his honor.

On Friday, 10TV spoke to Lee’s friend, Scott Washburn, who is also the mayor of Upper Sandusky. He described what Lee’s family and the community are going through after learning this news.

“Sharon and the girls and the grandkids. That's not fair to them. They've suffered enough. We are real fortunate to live in the community that we are in respecting their space and giving them their time,” Washburn said.

When asked about the current feeling, he said: “Outrage and hurt… He was just a loved man and people are bitter and I don't blame them because I'm just as bitter. And you are never going to know and that's going to be the hard part."

To date, 35 patients have been identified by Mount Carmel Health System as having received excessive doses of pain medication between 2014 and 2018. Thirty-four of the patients were at Mount Carmel West; one was at Mount Carmel St. Ann’s in Westerville. Of the 35, Mount Carmel has said that 29 of the patients received “potentially fatal doses” while the other six received doses that went beyond providing comfort but likely were not the causes of their deaths.

Records provided by 10 Investigates from The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services show that Lee had suffered cardiac arrest on October 12, 2017, and that his wife had agreed to not resuscitate “in the event the heart stopped,” a nurse practitioner noted on October 12, 2017, around 4:30 p.m.

The next day, at 7:19 a.m., a physician’s progress note from Physician A — believed to be Dr. Husel — stated that the family was in full agreement to withdraw care.

The records show that Lee was given 500 micrograms of fentanyl on October 13, 2017 at 8:01 a.m. — an that the order was verified by the pharmacist. Two other medications were ordered, Versed and Dilaudid, but the records do not show if those two medications were given. Health inspectors also noted that it’s not clear when Lee was taken off his ventilator. Lee died twenty minutes after receiving the dose of fentanyl.

All of 35 patients identified by the hospital were under the care of Dr. William Husel.

Mount Carmel had initially said that all of the patients were near death and in intensive care and that the patients’ families had agreed to end life-saving measures.

But in interviews with 10 Investigates, some of the patients’ families have said that they felt convinced by Dr. Husel that their loved ones were braid dead and had no chance of survival.

Mount Carmel has since said it has later discovered that at least five of the patients had conditions that could have improved with treatment. Four of the patients have been identified by the attorneys representing the families. The fifth patient has not been identified.

Twenty-six wrongful death lawsuits have been filed since 10 Investigates broke the news on January 14 that Mount Carmel was about to be embroiled in a patient overdosing scandal.

The hospital fired Dr. William Husel in December after an internal investigation. To date, 30 current caregivers at Mount Carmel have been placed on administrative leave for their roles in helping administer or approve the pain medications ordered by Dr. William Husel. The names of 48 nurses and pharmacists have been turned over to their respective state licensing boards.

Earlier this month, the state nursing board notified 25 nurses who helped administer the drugs that they could face discipline for their roles.

A Mount Carmel spokeswoman said she could not comment on specific patients but said that all of the families of the 35 patients that have been identified have been contacted.

The hospital has said it has enacted a series of changes, including capping the amount of fentanyl that can be used, requiring physicians and nurses to get pharmacy approval before administering pain medications when ventilators are being withdrawn and completely retraining its staff on signs to look for and things to question.

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