Former Mount Carmel doctor's attorney denies lawsuit allegations, claims Husel is immune

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COLUMBUS – In response to one of two dozen wrongful death lawsuits, an attorney for Dr. William Husel denies the allegations and asserts that state law provides Husel with immunity from both criminal prosecution and civil litigation.

The response, filed by Husel’s attorney Greg Foliano, was filed on Friday but did not appear in public court records until Monday afternoon.

Foliano wrote “this defendant is immune to this suit and not liable for damages in this tort or any tort of this nature…”

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His filing then references two Ohio statutes that spell out how “an attending physician of a principal is not subject to criminal prosecution or professional disciplinary action and is not liable in damages in a tort or other civil action for actions taken in good faith…”

The statutes go on to state that physicians can’t be held liable:

“If the decision is to withhold or withdraw life-sustaining treatment, the attending physician determines, in good faith, to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, and in accordance with reasonable medical standards, that both of the following apply:

  1. The principal is in a terminal condition or in a permanently unconscious state.
  2. There is no reasonable possibility that the principal will regain the capacity to make informed health care decisions for the principal.”

Foliano was responding to an amended lawsuit filed on behalf of Bonnie Austin, who died at Mount Carmel West in September after her attorneys allege that she received a “grossly inappropriate” dose of fentanyl.

In other filings, Foliano has previously mentioned patients’ conditions in his response to some of these lawsuits. In a response filed last month, Foliano wrote that Austin suffered cardiac arrest and was given CPR twice while in transport to Mount Carmel West. He also wrote that “minutes after arriving to the emergency room, her heart stopped again and more resuscitation was undertaken. Her pulse was lost at least twice more, resulting in multiple rounds of chest compressions over more than an hour. Ultimately, a pacemaker was placed to keep her heart beating. She never regained consciousness after her arrest. Ms. Austin died that evening.”

To date, 24 wrongful death lawsuits have been filed against Husel, Mount Carmel, nurses, pharmacists and their managers. In nearly all of the cases, the patients were said to be on a ventilator and given “excessive” or “grossly inappropriate” doses of fentanyl or other pain medication while their ventilators were being removed.

Husel was fired by the hospital in December following an internal investigation. An ongoing criminal investigation is underway.

The hospital has said that 35 patients who died between 2014 and 2018 were given excessive doses of pain medication – 29 of those patients received doses that the hospital considered to be “potentially fatal.”

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