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How questions arose over hospital doctor, drug doses, deaths

February 22, 2019
FILE - In this Jan. 15, 2019 file photo, the main entrance to Mount Carmel West Hospital is shown in Columbus, Ohio. The Ohio hospital system investigating a doctor accused of ordering painkiller overdoses for dozens of patients says five who died may have received excessive doses when there still was a chance to improve their conditions with treatment. The Columbus-area Mount Carmel Health System said Friday, Feb. 22 it's notifying those patients' families. (AP Photo/Andrew Welsh Huggins, File)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio hospital system’s finding that a doctor ordered possibly fatal doses of pain medication for dozens of patients has led to multiple investigations and lawsuits by families alleging their loved ones were negligently or intentionally killed. A review of developments based on information from Columbus-based Mount Carmel Health System, court filings and families:

Oct. 25: Mount Carmel gets first formal report of concern about care provided by intensive care doctor William Husel. A lawsuit later alleges that a 39-year-old man who received an excessive dose died the previous day.

Nov. 19: Mount Carmel gets second report and broadens an internal investigation. A lawsuit later alleges a woman died that day after receiving a lethal painkiller overdose.

Nov. 21: Mount Carmel gets third report and removes Husel from providing patient care. A lawsuit later alleges an 82-year-old woman died the previous night after receiving a fentanyl dose of 2,000 micrograms, far more than typically used in treatment.

Dec. 5: Mount Carmel fires Husel. It notifies the State Medical Board and Franklin County prosecutor.

Dec. 7: Mount Carmel notifies Ohio’s Board of Pharmacy and Board of Nursing.

Dec. 11: Mount Carmel begins training staff on changes in procedures and on existing and updated policies.

Dec. 27: Mount Carmel first notifies affected patients’ families and apologizes.

Jan. 14: The allegations become public as the first lawsuit is filed and the hospital reveals that Husel ordered potentially fatal doses for at least 27 patients , mostly at Mount Carmel West hospital. It says 20 nurses and pharmacists were put on leave pending investigation. The CEO apologizes publicly and tells staff that some employees “made poor decisions” and ignored safeguards.

Jan. 16: A Columbus man whose wife died offers the first public comments from an affected family . Husel’s lawyers aren’t commenting.

Jan. 18: Ohio Department of Health confirms it’s investigating on behalf of the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Jan. 24: Mount Carmel acknowledges Husel kept working for weeks after concern was raised. It says it’s reviewing whether patients received outsize doses when they might have had a chance to improve with treatment. It now says 28 patients got possibly fatal doses, and six more got excessive but not likely lethal doses.

Jan. 25: State Medical Board suspends Husel’s license , noting he invoked his right against self-incrimination when questioned.

Jan. 29: Mount Carmel announces 23 employees are now on leave , including managers, and nurses and pharmacists who administered and approved medication.

Feb. 5: A lawsuit alleges a nurse who later married Husel administered one of the excessive doses he ordered in 2015. The chief pharmacy officer leaves that job, and Mount Carmel won’t disclose whether her departure was forced or voluntary.

Feb. 7: A lawsuit alleges that pharmacy officer knew about employees prescribing, approving and administering excessive painkiller doses but didn’t stop it .

Feb. 11: The 15th related lawsuit alleges a man got a lethal dose of hydromorphone, or Dilaudid — not the fentanyl cited in many of the other cases.

Feb. 22: Mount Carmel says it has identified five dead patients who may have been given excessive doses when there still was a chance to improve their conditions with treatment. More wrongful-death lawsuits have been filed, bringing the total to at least 19.

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