Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Lawsuit: November death of Mount Carmel patient triggered investigation

A Grove City woman who went to Mount Carmel West hospital was the last intensive-care patient to receive an excessive and potentially fatal dose of pain medication from Dr. William Husel, and the case triggered the hospital's investigation, attorneys said Wednesday.

Husel apparently was escorted out of the hospital sometime after 82-year-old Melissa Penix died shortly before 11 p.m. on Nov. 20. She had received a 2,000-microgram dose of the opioid fentanyl, said attorney Craig Tuttle of the Columbus firm Leeseberg & Valentine.

The dose is the highest reported by attorneys representing more than 15 families of Mount Carmel Health System patients who died under Husel's care. The highest previously reported dosage was 1,000 micrograms.

Tuttle called the dose given Penix "absurd and unfathomable."

"It was just stunning. ... And the family was appalled and shocked at learning the truth," he said.

Health care professionals have told The Dispatch that a 250-microgram dose would be enough to raise questions.

Husel has been accused of ordering excessive doses of painkiller from 2015 to 2018 for 33 near-death patients at Mount Carmel West in Franklinton and one such patient at Mount Carmel St. Ann's in Westerville. All the patients died, and Mount Carmel has said the doses potentially caused the deaths of 28 of them.

Attorneys said a wrongful-death lawsuit probably will be filed on behalf of Penix's husband in Franklin County Common Pleas Court on Thursday. A copy of the suit decries the health system for failing to act on formal complaints filed on Oct. 25 and Nov. 19 about Husel's care, and it says that hospital representatives told Penix's family that her death triggered their investigation.

Mount Carmel has said Husel was removed from patient care on Nov. 21, and it has acknowledged that three patients died after the Oct. 25 complaint. A public apology was issued in January. All patient families also have been notified about the dosing issues, the system has said.

"Our family is immensely disappointed in the tragic choices of Dr. William Husel, the nurses, pharmacists, and leadership of Mount Carmel Health System," Penix's family said in a statement. "Melissa, affectionately known as Mel or Meemaw, was a devoted Christian, a wife of more than 65 years, a mother to all who graced her home, a loving and laughing grandmother and cookie-giving, color-right-along-with-you great-grandmother."

The Penix suit will name as defendants Mount Carmel, Husel, a pharmacist believed to have approved the order, and a nurse believed to have administered it. It also will list unnamed administrators and managers who were aware of the Oct. 25 report and/or the Nov. 19 report.

Penix, the law firm said in a statement, had been taken to the hospital with stomach pain on Nov. 15 and subsequently was diagnosed with pneumonia. On Nov. 19, she was admitted to the ICU with increasing difficulty breathing and was placed on a ventilator to allow her body to rest and heal, the statement said.

Penix was able to smile, make gestures and interact with family members, according to the firm. Then, on the afternoon of Nov. 20, she complained of stomach pain. A few hours later, Husel told her family that she had a severe stomach infection and was brain-dead, and that her organs were failing, the firm said. They were encouraged to remove care, which they did.

Penix, the firm said, died within five minutes of being administered the fentanyl.

Also on Tuesday, attorney David Shroyer, who has filed three wrongful-death lawsuits in Franklin County Common Pleas Court on behalf of patient families, said he submitted a motion agreeing to postpone questioning Husel under oath but asking a judge to allow the civil cases and evidence-gathering to proceed.

The motion is in response to one filed Tuesday by Husel's attorney, Gregory Foliano, who argued that the civil cases should be put on hold until after the completion of a related criminal investigation and any potential prosecution so that Husel does not have to respond to questions that could be used as evidence in any criminal matter.

The Ohio Department of Health said Mount Carmel submitted a correction plan Wednesday for St. Ann's hospital in response to a warning from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that the hospital could be terminated from the Medicare program over serious pharmaceutical-service deficiencies. A plan for Mount Carmel West was submitted Tuesday.

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Lawsuit: November death of Mount Carmel patient triggered investigation

1 comment:

StandUp said...

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