AP NEWS

More staff on leave as hospital reviews deaths, drug doses

January 29, 2019
FILE - In this Jan. 15, 2019 file photo, the main entrance to Mount Carmel West Hospital is shown in Columbus, Ohio. The Columbus-area Mount Carmel Health System said a doctor's orders for potentially fatal doses of pain medicine given to over two dozen patients were carried out by what he calls "a small number of good people who made poor decisions." Mount Carmel Health System said it fired the intensive care doctor, put six pharmacists and 14 nurses on paid leave pending further review and reported its findings to authorities. (AP Photo/Andrew Welsh Huggins, File)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio hospital said Tuesday it has put more employees, including managers, on leave amid allegations that an intensive-care doctor ordered potentially fatal doses of pain medication for dozens of patients.

Mount Carmel Health System, which fired the doctor in December, said 23 staff members are on leave pending further investigation. It previously had said 20 employees — six pharmacists and 14 nurses — were on leave.

Mount Carmel found Dr. William Husel ordered potentially fatal doses for at least 28 patients over several years and doses for six more patients that were larger than necessary to provide comfort but not likely what caused their deaths. Nearly all were at Mount Carmel West hospital in Columbus.

The discovery raised questions about whether drugs were wrongly used to hasten deaths intentionally or possibly illegally without the patients’ families knowing, and whether pharmacists and nurses ignored existing safeguards when approving and administering medication.

Mount Carmel notified authorities and publicly apologized . It initially said affected patients were near death, but now says it’s investigating whether some received possibly lethal doses when there still might have been opportunity to improve their conditions with treatment.

The State Medical Board suspended Husel’s license , but no criminal charges have been announced. Husel’s lawyers haven’t commented.

At least eight wrongful-death lawsuits have been filed, alleging that patients were negligently or intentionally given overdoses and that hospital safeguards failed or were ignored.

Mount Carmel said it’s reviewing records of all patients who died in the hospital and were treated by Husel, and it anticipates more affected patients might be discovered.

Local authorities are investigating, as is the Ohio Department of Health .