Mount Carmel: Delay patient deaths' lawsuits during probe

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

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio health system wants to put on hold civil lawsuits over allegations that a doctor ordered excessive painkiller doses for dozens of patients who died.

Mount Carmel Health System found that the doctor, William Husel ordered potentially fatal drug doses for 29 central Ohio patients over several years.

The system faced 27 wrongful-death lawsuits, with a few settled so far. In response to lawsuits, Husel denies negligently or intentionally causing deaths.

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Mount Carmel says in court filings this week that until criminal and licensing board investigations are completed it can't access information it needs to defend itself.

Attorney Gerald Leeseberg represents several families suing Mount Carmel. He opposes the request, calling it a cover-up attempt aimed at stopping independent investigations.

Leeseberg & Valentine statement on Mount Carmel seeking to delay civil cases:

"Mount Carmel, hiding behind Dr. Husel and his lawyer, is now asking the Court in the lawsuits against Mount Carmel and Dr. Husel to prohibit the patients’ families from conducting their own independent investigation into their family members’ deaths, for an indefinite period of time.

Mount Carmel has publicly admitted its own investigation revealed Dr. Husel intentionally and fatally overdosed 35 patients over four years - and yet Mount Carmel is now trying to stop lawyers for the families from discovering any and all of the facts as to why Dr. Husel engaged in these actions, how long red flags were being raised about Dr. Husel, and why Mount Carmel ignored those red flags and its own safety protocols for four years.

Dr. Husel and Mount Carmel are claiming that because Dr. Husel will invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, the families should not be allowed to obtain any documents, or question any of the nurses, pharmacists, medical supervisors, or hospital administrators involved in the 35 patient deaths.

According to Gerald Leeseberg, one of the attorneys who represents 17 families in the lawsuits, “Such a desperate strategy to hide what happened is contrary to Ohio law and will not be endorsed by the Court. Despite Mount Carmel’s self-serving claims of ‘transparency’, this is simply an effort to enlist the Court in a cover-up. The patients’ families and the public deserve to know exactly what happened and why.”

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