COLUMBUS (AP) — The Ohio hospital system where an intensive-care doctor is accused of ordering painkiller overdoses for dozens of patients has put more employees on leave and changed key leaders at the hospital where nearly all those deaths occurred.
Mount Carmel Health System said Wednesday that 48 nurses and pharmacists under review have been reported to their respective boards. Thirty of those employees have been put on leave, and 18 no longer work there, including some that left years ago, the system said.
“We have great confidence in our colleagues and our leadership, however, we understand that these events likely lead the communities that we serve to wonder what allowed this situation to develop and persist,” CEO Ed Lamb said in a statement. He said Mount Carmel has taken a variety of steps to address those concerns and ensure patients can trust that it provides safe care.
Any employee who was part of administering medication for the affected patients has been removed from patient care as a precaution, Lamb said, noting that their actions are being reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
The health system also said Mount Carmel West hospital in Columbus has new interim clinical leadership and new leaders in its intensive care unit, whose previous physician, nursing and pharmacy leaders are among those on administrative leave.
Mount Carmel found that Dr. William Husel ordered potentially fatal drug doses for 29 patients over several years, including five who may have been given that pain medication when there still was a chance to improve their conditions with treatment. The hospital system said six more patients got doses that were excessive but not likely what caused their deaths.
Police and prosecutors are investigating the 29 deaths, and the state attorney general’s office is also conducting a Medicaid fraud investigation related to Husel. The State Medical Board has suspended his license, and the hospital fired him in December.
Husel and Mount Carmel now face at least two dozen lawsuits.
In responses to some of those, a lawyer for Husel denied that the doctor negligently or intentionally caused patients’ deaths. Husel hasn’t commented publicly.
The publicly apologized as the allegations became public and affected families began filing wrongful-death cases.
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