Latest wrongful death lawsuit filed against Mount Carmel involving drug other than fentanyl

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

COLUMBUS – The fifteenth wrongful death lawsuit filed against Mount Carmel Health System and its former doctor William Husel deviates from the previous lawsuits in one major aspect – it does not involve the powerful painkiller fentanyl.

Instead, the latest wrongful lawsuit alleges that 58-year old Donald McClung was given a fatal dose of the drug dilaudid during a stay at Mount Carmel West in September of 2018. The lawsuit names the hospital, Husel, two nurses and a pharmacist as defendants and alleges that the defendants prematurely concluded that Donald McClung was near death.

The lawsuit alleges that McClung’s family received a call from Dr. Husel at approximately 2 a.m. on Sept. 18, 2018, and were told that his condition was deteriorating. Based on that information, the family of McClung made the decision to change the code status of McClung to “do not resuscitate.”

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The lawsuit alleges that McClung was given a total of 10 milligrams of dilaudid in the early morning hours of Sept. 18, 2018. The lawsuit alleges that the hospital, along with Dr. William Husel and its caregivers were negligent. “Donald McClung suffered injury, was stripped of the dignity of life, had his rights violated, and ultimately died,” the lawsuit alleges.

According to a statement from McClung’s family:

“Don was admitted to the hospital on September 10, 2018 with difficulty breathing and complications of congestive heart failure. He was admitted to a regular room and was being taken care of on the floor. He was breathing better. On September 17, 2018, the doctors said the plan was to do an ablation on Don’s heart and possibly putting a pace maker in to help his atrial fibrillation. They gave us hope that things were going well. Don was acting like he was getting back to himself. But he had been moved to the ICU and put under the care of Dr. Husel. We visited Don and he seemed fine to us. He wasn’t struggling to breathe at all while talking to us. Within 13 hours of being told he would possibly need a pace maker, he passed away.

Don is loved and missed by his family and friends. The McClung family asks for respect during this very difficult time.”

A total of 34 patients have been identified as having received excessive doses of pain medications. Twenty-eight of those patients are believed to have received fatal doses; six others were believed to have been given doses that “went beyond providing comfort” but likely were not the cause of their deaths, the hospital has alleged.

McClung was not among the 27 patients first identified by the hospital, according to Tim Mahler, one of the attorneys representing the family of McClung.

According to attorney Michael Rourke, the family did not receive a call on December 28 as most or all of the original 27 families did. On January 15, Mrs. McClung told her family doctor that she had concerns about the circumstances of her husband’s death due to the number of vials of Dilaudid that had been administered. Her family doctor said that he would alert Mount Carmel to these concerns. The next day, January 16, Vickie received a voicemail from a person at Mt. Carmel. At that point, she was already scheduled to meet with an attorney, so she did not return the call. On January 24, Mount Carmel upped the number of identified families from 27 to 34. Mr. McClung was one of the 7 newly identified patients.