COLUMBUS, Ohio— A wrongful-death lawsuit against an Ohio doctor accused of ordering potentially fatal doses of pain medication for hospital patients alleges a nurse now married to him administered one of the excessive doses he ordered in 2015.
It’s among the growing list of at least a dozen cases brought since the Columbus-area Mount Carmel Health System found intensive care doctor William Husel ordered potentially fatal doses for at least 28 patients over several years, mostly at Mount Carmel West hospital.
Some families are questioning whether drugs were wrongly used to hasten patients’ deaths intentionally or possibly illegally without their knowledge, and whether pharmacists and nurses ignored safeguards when approving and administering medication.
Mount Carmel fired Husel in December, then publicly apologized and put 23 pharmacists, nurses and managers on leave pending investigation.
It won’t say whether those employees include nurse Mariah Baird, who married Husel in October 2017 in North Carolina, according to marriage records.
An updated lawsuit over the March 2015 death of 65-year-old Jan Thomas alleges Baird administered a lethal dose of fentanyl ordered by Husel. Attorney David Shroyer, who represents Thomas’ family, said that amended lawsuit was filed Tuesday.
Lawyers for Husel, 43, haven’t commented. The State Medical Board suspended his license , but no criminal charges have been announced.
Court records list no lawyer for Baird, and phone numbers associated with her weren’t accepting calls Tuesday.
Also Tuesday, three new lawsuits were filed against Husel, the hospital, nurses and pharmacists over excessive dosages given to three patients, according to the office of attorney Gerry Leeseberg, who represents some of the families. Those new cases focus on the deaths of 55-year-old Timothy Fitzpatrick on Oct. 9, 2017; 70-year-old Larry Brigner on Dec. 10, 2017; and 39-year-old James “Nick” Timmons on Oct. 24.
Leeseberg’s office said Fitzpatrick died within hours of another patient, 63-year-old Beverlee Schirtzinger, who also received an excessive dose ordered by Husel and provided by the same pharmacist and nurse as in Fitzpatrick’s case. No lawsuit has been filed over Schirtzinger’s death.
Mount Carmel 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.
Local authorities are investigating, as is the Ohio Department of Health . The hospital also has been warned it could lose Medicare funding unless it proves it can correct deficiencies in its pharmaceutical services.