An intensive care doctor in the Mount Carmel Health System in Columbus has been fired after being accused of giving excessive and potentially fatal doses of the powerful painkiller fentanyl to at least 27 patients over a five-year period.
Dr. William Husel, 43, has been terminated and details of a Mount Carmel investigation have been turned in to authorities, according to health system executives.
An announcement about the internal investigation was released on Monday, shortly after a lawsuit was filed against the health system, the doctor, a pharmacist and a nurse in the 2017 death of a 79-year-old woman at Mount Carmel West hospital.
The pharmacist is identified as 31-year-old Talon Schroyer, and the nurse as 32-year-old Tyler Rudman.
The patients involved were all near death, the health system said. But attorney Gerald Leeseberg, who filed the Monday lawsuit on behalf of Kavanaugh's daughter, said they had differing circumstances.
Kavanaugh, he said, had been transferred to the hospital from an assisted-care center with very serious health issues.
"She was an old woman with some health issues. That's really not in dispute," he said. "The problem is somebody or some people in the medical field appear to have made a unilateral decision about terminating her life or hastening her death without discussion of the patient or the family."
Fentanyl is a powerful opioid pain medication, approximately 100 times stronger than morphine. Pain medications, including fentanyl, are often used to keep patients comfortable near the end of life.
This situation doesn't fall into that category, Leeseberg said.
Neither Husel nor Rudman could be reached for comment. Schroyer declined comment when contacted by the Dispatch..
According to a medical expert, who filed an affidavit with the lawsuit, the amount of fentanyl prescribed and given to Kavanaugh was "grossly inappropriate and excessive, and was intentionally prescribed by Defendant Husel for the purposes of hastening the termination" of her life.
Kavanaugh was given the fentanyl through an IV and died within 18 minutes, according to the lawsuit filed by the Columbus law firm of Leeseberg & Valentine, which is representing Kavanaugh's estate.
According to the suit, Mount Carmel administrators recently contacted Kavanaugh’s daughter to tell about the excessive dosage of fentanyl, and to advise that the Mount Carmel staff members involved in the fentanyl prescription and administration had been suspended from patient care.
Over a five-year period, an intensive care doctor in the Mount Carmel Health System delivered “significantly excessive and potentially fatal” doses of pain medication to at least 27 patients who were near death, according to a statement released by the health system on Monday.
Results of a health system investigation have been turned over to authorities, and the doctor has been fired, according to the statement.