Hospital settles 3 lawsuits in excessive dose claims

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The Ohio hospital system where an intensive care doctor is accused of ordering excessive doses of painkillers for dozens of patients who died is settling three resulting wrongful-death cases, while 24 more lawsuits are pending.

The family of 78-year-old Lora Stone reached a $250,000 settlement with the Columbus-area Mount Carmel Health System over her May 2017 death, according to court records of the settlement approved late last week. Her three daughters get almost $55,000 each, and the rest goes to their lawyer and legal costs.

Mount Carmel confirmed two more cases were resolved, but details haven’t been publicly shared or filed in court.

Messages were left Tuesday for attorneys involved in the cases.

“It is our hope that these resolutions will bring some measure of closure and comfort to the families affected by this tragedy,” Mount Carmel President and CEO Edward Lamb said in a statement. He said the hospital system is “committed to doing what is right and fair” and will keep talking with families’ attorneys to try to resolve more cases.

A law firm that filed more than half the lawsuits, Leeseberg & Valentine, has described the settlement offers so far from the hospital system’s insurance carriers as unreasonable and offensive .

Mount Carmel found that the doctor, William Husel, ordered potentially fatal drug doses for 29 patients over several years. The hospital system said that five may have been given that pain medication when there still was a chance for their conditions to improve with treatment. It said six more patients got doses that were excessive but not likely what caused their deaths.

Court filings for Husel in some of the lawsuits deny that he negligently or intentionally caused deaths.

Husel, 43, worked for Mount Carmel for five years before he was fired in December. He remains under investigation , and his medical license has been suspended.

Records show the State Medical Board in Ohio hasn’t previously taken disciplinary action against Husel. The board doesn’t disclose whether it has received complaints if no formal disciplinary action is taken.

Mount Carmel publicly apologized and said 48 nurses and pharmacists under review in the matter were reported to their respective boards. It said 30 of those employees were put on leave, and 18 no longer work there.

The affected patients identified by relatives or in litigation include men and women who were treated for various ailments, mostly at Mount Carmel West hospital. They ranged in age from 37 to 85.

The lawsuits allege many of them were given outsized dosages of the powerful painkiller fentanyl.