Mount Carmel doctor, nurse and pharmacist accused of administering lethal doses of fentanyl

File Photo - Mount Carmel West Hospital (AP Photo/Andrew Welsh Huggins)

COLUMBUS – A Mount Carmel West doctor, nurse and pharmacist have been accused of ordering and providing lethal doses of fentanyl to an Ohio woman and as many as 26 other patients, according to a civil lawsuit filed Monday and statements made by the hospital.

The physician, Dr. William Husel, has been fired, according to a hospital statement, and 20 other hospital staff have been removed from providing further patient care while the hospital investigates.

Photo of Dr. William Hussel (Mount Carmel West)

Reached by phone Monday, Husel declined to comment 10 Investigates. An email and voice message were left for his attorney.

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According to a copy of the complaint, Mount Carmel hospital administration reached out to former patient Janet Kavanaugh's family on Monday, January 14, 2019 and alleged that the "actions described in the lawsuit are not an isolated incident, but rather, a repeated course of conduct by the Defendants with respect to at least 26 other patients at Mount Carmel."

Mount Carmel released a statement to 10 Investigates that read in part:

"During the five years he worked here, this doctor ordered significantly excessive and potentially fatal doses of pain medication for at least 27 patients who were near death. These patients' families had requested that all life-saving measures be stopped, yet the amount of medicine the doctor ordered was more than what was needed to provide comfort. On behalf of Mount Carmel and Trinity Health, our parent organization, we apologize for this tragedy, and we're truly sorry for the additional grief this may cause these families..."

The statement went on to say: We’re working hard to learn all we can about these cases, and we removed 20 hospital staff from providing further patient care while we gather more facts. This includes a number of nurses who administered the medication and a number of staff pharmacists who were also involved in the related patient care.

Mount Carmel provides compassionate care that takes into account the decisions of patients and their families. We believe in helping patients who are near death die peacefully and naturally.

The actions instigated by this doctor were unacceptable and inconsistent with the values and practices of Mount Carmel, regardless of the reasons the actions were taken. We take responsibility for the fact that the processes in place were not sufficient to prevent these actions from happening. We’re doing everything to understand how this happened and what we need to do to ensure it never happens again. We're joined in this effort by leaders of Trinity Health and we've asked outside experts to assist us.”

Two other people named in the lawsuit, nurse Tyler Rudman and pharmacist Talon Schroyer, also declined to comment when reached by phone Monday evening. They also declined to say if they’re still working for the hospital.

The lawsuit, filed Monday in Franklin County Common Pleas Court, alleges that Dr. William Husel ordered 1,000 micrograms of fentanyl be administered to an Ohio woman, Janet Kavanaugh, through her IV.

“Defendant Husel’s order of a grossly excessive and inappropriate dosage of Fentanyl was reviewed and approved by Mount Carmel’s pharmacist – Defendant Schroyer – and the medication was made available to Defendant Rudman, Janet’s nurse,” the lawsuit states. “Defendant Schroyer knew that the ordered dosage of Fentanyl was grossly inappropriate, served no therapeutic purpose or function, and would only serve to hasten the termination of Janet Kavanaugh’s life.”

The lawsuit goes on to allege that Rudman administered the lethal dose of Fentanyl to Kavanaugh on December 11, 2017 and that she died within minutes of receiving the injection.

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