COLUMBUS (WBNS) – In recent months, Mount Carmel has paid out more than $2 million to the families of patients who died in the overdose scandal at its hospitals.
Half of that $2 million figure – about $1.1 million - came from two recent settlements that were filed this week, 10 Investigates has learned.
In one of the settlements, the family of Robert Lee, the Mount Carmel patient who died at St. Ann’s hospital in 2017, alleges that hospital records show that Dr. William Husel first ordered a fatal dose of fentanyl before having an “end of life” conversation with the family.
That new allegation emerged in a settlement document, which was obtained by 10 Investigates.
Lee, a former educator and coach from Upper Sandusky, was taken to Mount Carmel in October of 2017 after suffering a cardiac arrest. He died the next morning.
According to the settlement document, “In December of 2018, Mrs. Lee was notified by the Mount Carmel that Dr. William Husel, a critical care specialist employed by the health system, had ordered the administration of a fatal dose (550 mcg) of Fentanyl to Mr. Lee. A Mount Carmel nurse carried out Dr. Husel’s order by doing just that. Significantly, according to hospital records, Dr. Husel had an “end of life” discussion with the family several minutes after he had ordered the fatal dose of Fentanyl. Based on that, it appears that Dr. Husel made the unwarranted decision to end Mr. Lee’s life before he had discussed that with the family. While family members agreed that life support would be withdrawn, they did not agree to anything that would have hastened the death of their loved one.”
A 10 Investigates review of records from state health inspectors working on behalf of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services shows that a nurse practitioner had spoken to Lee’s wife on October 12, 2017 and that she had agreed to not resuscitate the patient in the event the heart stopped.
Those same records show that Dr. Husel noted in his physician’s progress note that the family “was in full agreement to withdraw care” at 7:19 a.m. on October 13, 2017. At the same time – 7:19 a.m. – an order was placed for fentanyl.
A call seeking clarity was placed with the attorney for Lee.
10 Investigates also reached out to Mount Carmel and attorneys for Dr. Husel seeking comment.
The family of Lee had not filed a wrongful death lawsuit, but will receive $675,000 from Mount Carmel Health System as part of a settlement agreement. The attorney for Lee’s family will receive $135,000 – meaning the remaining $540,000 will be disbursed to Lee’s widow and children.
An attorney for the Lee family said the settlement included a confidentiality clause, so he could not comment beyond the records filed in court.
The attorney said the Lee family would not be commenting.
10 Investigates has also uncovered details of another settlement involving a Mount Carmel patient. The family of Ryan Hayes, a Mount Carmel West patient who received 2,000 micrograms of fentanyl, will receive a settlement of $485,000.
Combined these two recent settlements combined for $1.1 million.
All told, Mount Carmel has paid out more than $2.1 million in settlements to at least eight families of Mount Carmel patients believed to have been impacted by the patient overdose scandal.
To date, 35 patients are believed to have received excessive – or in some cases potentially fatal – doses of pain medications. Nearly all of the patients were on ventilators and received drugs like fentanyl or dilaudid while or after their ventilators were being removed. All of the patients who died were under the care of Dr. William Husel, who the hospital fired in December after an internal investigation.
In 24 of the 27 patient cases reviewed by state health inspectors working on behalf of CMS, the inspectors found that Husel used an override function on an automated medication dispensing system to bypass the hospital’s pharmacy and gain access to large doses of medication.
The hospital has since changed several internal policies, including placing caps on how much medication can be used and requiring that nurses and doctors first get pharmacy approval before administering drugs to patients who are being extubated.
The state medical board suspended the license of Husel. He has declined to comment. His attorney, Richard Blake, has said that he did not intend to kill these patients.
Statement from Mount Carmel
"It is our hope that these settlements will bring some measure of closure and comfort to the families. We are committed to doing what is right and fair for all families affected by this tragedy. Out of respect for the families, we will not publicly discuss details of these cases."