Multiple lawsuits filed against Mount Carmel, doctor over alleged fentanyl prescription deaths

Third lawsuit filed
Multiple lawsuits filed against Mount Carmel, former doctor

COLUMBUS – Multiple wrongful death lawsuits have been filed against a Mount Carmel physician accused of ordering lethal doses of fentanyl for 27 patients, which attorneys argue, hastened these patients’ deaths.

Watch: A family member of one patient who died at Mount Carmel speaks out after a former doctor allegedly administered fatal doses of fentanyl to 27 patients.

The latest lawsuit, filed Wednesday, names the Mount Carmel Health System, Dr. William Husel, and an unnamed nurse and pharmacist as defendants. It makes similar allegations as two other lawsuits, which accused Husel of ordering “grossly inappropriate” amounts of fentanyl and alleged that the hospital and its caregivers failed to stop it.

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The latest lawsuit alleges that 44-year old Troy Allison was prescribed “a lethal dose of narcotic pain medication on or about July 15, 2018.”

Photo of Troy Allison and his wife, Christine. (Submitted photo)

More lawsuits are expected, attorneys tell 10 Investigates.

Husel has been fired and 20 caregivers – including nurses and pharmacists – have been removed from patient care since the story broke Monday.

Husel has declined to comment and so have his defense attorneys when contacted by 10 Investigates on Wednesday.

Internal memos from Mount Carmel Health System, which were obtained by 10 Investigates, show that Mount Carmel staffers were made aware of the concerns about patient care on December 9 and 13th.

But in a statement Wednesday, a hospital spokeswoman said that the hospital was first made aware of concerns in October.

“We were first made aware of a patient care concern by the physician in late October 2018, which we were in the process of investigating when a second more specific concern occurred Nov. 19, which prompted us to take immediate action,” the statement read.

The hospital’s president and CEO, Ed Lamb, released a video statement late Monday night apologizing to patient families and admitting that the hospital’s policies failed to catch these errors.

“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. Our team has contacted these families and will continue to answer their questions and concerns as best as we can,” Lamb said.

Lamb acknowledged in an internal memo obtained by 10 Investigates that whistleblower employees “who had the courage to come forward” helped flag the irregularities and grossly excessive amounts of fentanyl that were provided to 27 patients, which the lawsuits allege hastened these patients’ deaths.

A second lawsuit filed late Tuesday against a Mount Carmel doctor accuses Husel, a critical care physician at Mount Carmel West hospital, of ordering “grossly inappropriate” lethal doses of fentanyl that was given to 27 patients.

David Austin told 10 Investigates Wednesday that his wife Bonnie is one of those 27 patients.

Austin told reporters from his attorney’s office Wednesday that when his wife was transported to Mount Carmel West hospital in Columbus on September 30, he expected her to recover.

She died that same night.

While Austin says his wife, Bonnie, was in cardiac arrest, he says she was stabilized in the ICU. He told reporters that Dr. William Husel told him that night that she was brain dead.

“I went berserk. I had to take a walk. I had to go. I had to go… I just took a long walk,” David Austin said fighting back tears.

“You’ve got to be joking? 27 other people? ... Why would he do that?” he said.

The latest lawsuit filed Tuesday in Franklin County Common Pleas Court names Mount Carmel Health Systems, Dr. William Husel, Talon Schroyer – all who were named in the first lawsuit – and another nurse.

It alleges that Dr. William Husel ordered that 600 micrograms of fentanyl be given to a Columbus woman, Bonnie Austin, after she was transported to Mount Carmel West hospital on September 30, 2018 for a collapsed lung.

“Defendant Husel ordered that 600 micrograms of the drug Fentanyl in addition to a large dose of Versed be given to Bonnie Austin through her IV and told Plaintiff David Austin that his wife was brain dead.

This excessive dosage was grossly inappropriate given Bonnie Austin’s condition and was either ordered negligently and not properly reviewed or was intentionally prescribed by Dr. Husel for the purpose of ending Bonnie Austin’s life,” the lawsuit states.

Attorney David Shroyer told 10 Investigates that his client David Austin was contacted by Mount Carmel administrators shortly after Christmas about their internal investigation into patient care concerns.

Shroyer said his client did not realize there were 26 other patients who died until Monday when the story was broadcast on WBNS-TV.

Shroyer told reporters that the hospital should have internal controls to ensure that medication errors did not occur.

Columbus Police and the Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office are also investigating.

Mount Carmel told 10 Investigates it has reached out to all 27 patient families and made contact with all except one family.

If someone thinks their family is affected or has questions or concerns, the hospital said people can call 614-265-7535.

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