Mount Carmel says actions of 48 employees under review; 30 placed on leave

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

COLUMBUS, Ohio – In response to questions posed by 10 Investigates, Mount Carmel now says the actions of 48 nurses and pharmacists are under review and have been forwarded to state regulatory agencies including the boards of nursing and pharmacy.

That figure includes 30 current employees of Mount Carmel and 18 former – many of whom, Mount Carmel says, left the hospital years ago.

Mount Carmel released a statement Wednesday afternoon that read in part:

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“Placing colleagues on administrative leave does not reflect final judgment on their actions. It is the appropriate step to take while we continue our internal investigation. All of our actions to date—including colleague decisions—were based on the information we had available at the time. Given the ongoing nature of the investigation, these actions may change as new information becomes available.

We also want to emphasize that colleague actions are being thoroughly reviewed on a case-by-case basis. After a thorough review of each colleague through our fair and just culture process, we anticipate some colleagues may return to work at the appropriate time.”

To date, 35 patients are believed to have received excessive doses between 2014 and 2018. Of those, 28 of these patients are believed to have received potentially fatal doses of pain medications, the hospital has said.

All of the patients died and all were under the care of Dr. William Husel, a critical care intensivist who started at Mount Carmel in 2013. Husel’s medical license has been suspended. He and his attorneys have in the past repeatedly declined to comment. An active criminal investigation is underway by the Columbus Division of Police and the Franklin County prosecutor’s office.

Some of the nurses and pharmacists named in 24 wrongful death lawsuits have since gone on to work at other health facilities in central Ohio.

10 Investigates has reached out to other health agencies but have not heard back on whether they have taken administrative action or discipline against the former Mount Carmel employees.

Wednesday’s statement from Mount Carmel, attributed to CEO and President Ed Lamb, also said:

“Mount Carmel continues to take significant steps after the deaths of patients under the care of Dr. William Husel to chart a new path for the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Mount Carmel West. We have great confidence in our colleagues and our leadership, however, we understand that these events likely lead the communities that we serve to wonder what allowed this situation to develop and persist. As a result of our investigation and to address these concerns, and without passing judgment on our clinicians, we have taken a number of steps to ensure that our patients and our communities can be confident that we are doing everything possible and that they can continue to trust Mount Carmel to provide extraordinary people-centered care that is safe.

To that end, we have:
- Appointed new interim clinical leadership for Mount Carmel West as a whole, as well as new leadership in key areas of the ICU at Mount Carmel West—our previous physician, nursing and pharmacy leaders are on administrative leave;
- Removed from patient care any colleague who was in any way part of medication administration for an impacted patient;
- Provided information to appropriate licensing boards on all colleagues who were in any way part of medication administration for an impacted patient; and
- Continued our internal investigation and active cooperation with all relevant authorities and regulatory bodies.

This story will be updated.