Mount Carmel Doctor Under Investigation
Mount Carmel has been in the news as of late all around Ohio and the nation for the actions of Dr. William Husel, a physician who allegedly prescribed excessive amounts of painkillers to near-death patients in his care, causing them to overdose and pass away. The actions of Dr. Husel came to the attention of Mount Carmel in October 2018 after an employee spoke up about the large and unnecessary amounts of Fentanyl, a narcotic painkiller, being administered to end-of-life patients.
The Ohio Department of Health along with the Franklin County Prosecutor’s office and the Columbus Police Department have launched an investigation into the physician after approximately 35 patients died under his supervision in the intensive care unit (ICU) at Mount Carmel facilities according to WOSU Public Media on February 22, 2019.
Husel was fired on December 5, 2018 and six pharmacists along with fourteen nurses have been put on administrative leave for their roles in the care, or more accurately, the lack of care for these patients. Ed Lamb, the president and CEO of Mount Carmel, spoke on the conduct of Husel and his intensive care team for The Columbus Dispatch.
“The actions instigated by this doctor were unacceptable and inconsistent with the values and practices of Mount Carmel, regardless of the reasons the actions were taken,” he stated.
Lamb also discussed the new regulations and changes in protocol that have been put in place since the termination of Dr. Husel, citing the implementation of increased education in proper end of life care and the designation of maximum appropriate painkiller doses in their medical system.
Many have questioned Husel’s medical education and experience, but investigations into his education have shown no evidence that explains his malpractice. He graduated from The Ohio State University in 2000 and received his medical degree from the Ohio University Heritage of Osteopathic Medicine, located in Dublin, in 2008. He then trained at the Cleveland Clinic, the number two ranked hospital in the United States. The Cleveland Clinic performed a review of his training and stated that there were no apparent concerns, according to The Columbus Dispatch on January 18, 2019.
Some families of the patients who passed away under Husel’s care have filed wrongful death lawsuits in the Franklin County Common Pleas Court. In addition, Husel’s medical license was suspended on January 25, 2019 and the Mount Carmel hospitals at Franklinton and St. Ann’s, where these patients were treated, are facing potentially losing their eligibility to receive Medicare payments. The entire situation has severely impacted Mount Carmel’s image and credibility, and will drastically affect their medical care facilities.
According to NBC4i on February 25, 2019, Husel has requested a hearing before the State Medical Board of Ohio to appeal the suspension of his medical license. The Board stated that Husel appeared before them ahead of his suspension in January, but that he declined to answer the majority of their questions, pleading the fifth amendment. The Board is debating further consequences for his actions which could include permanent revocation of his medical license.
Attorneys for Husel are arguing that the doctor had no intention to purposefully harm or kill these patients, but the evidence is not in their favor. Mount Carmel announced that five of the patients who received large doses of painkillers could have survived with proper treatment after the fact. This makes matters worse for Mount Carmel, and irremediable for Dr. Husel and his team.
As the health care company faces lawsuits and possibly losing Medicare payments, it is difficult to be sure how this turn of events will affect the long-term success of Mount Carmel. One thing to be sure of is that this scandal has shaken the community in central Ohio and has devastated the families of the innocent patients involved. Hopefully in the coming months, the Columbus community and those affected by these horrible deaths can begin to heal and get the justice they need to finally continue moving forward.