The costs continue to add up for an Ohio hospital system from lawsuits stemming from a doctor who has been charged with murder in the deaths of 25 hospitalized patients for which he allegedly ordered excessive doses of painkillers to end their lives.
Mount Carmel Health System has agreed to pay two of the largest settlements yet, totaling $9 million, over two patient deaths, according to the Associated Press.
Mount Carmel agreed to settle the cases that allege William Husel, D.O., a critical care doctor, ordered drugs that caused the death of Donald McClung, 58, last September, and hastened the death of Rebecca Walls, 75, in November, the AP said, citing court records. The patients’ conditions deteriorated while being treated at Mount Carmel West hospital, and the health system agreed to pay $4.35 million in Walls’ death and $4.65 million in McClung’s death, the AP said.
The hospital system fired Husel last December after an investigation into patient deaths. He was arrested in June and charged with murder as authorities say he deliberately ordered overdoses of fentanyl given to patients at Mount Carmel and St. Ann’s hospitals in Columbus. Husel has pleaded not guilty, and his lawyer has said the doctor was providing comfort care to dying patients, not trying to end their lives.
The $9 million settlements would be the highest known payout so far in the related wrongful death lawsuits filed by patients’ survivors, the AP said.
Mount Carmel has agreed to pay about $13.5 million in settlements so far, including the two latest which still must be approved by a judge, the AP said. About 20 lawsuits are still pending.
Mount Carmel previously settled at least seven other cases, including two in which families did not bring lawsuits, for a total of almost $4.5 million, the AP reported.
Husel has a new attorney, the AP said, citing court records. Jose Baez, the Florida attorney who successfully defended high-profile clients Casey Anthony and former football player Aaron Hernandez in murder cases, has been added to the defense.
The doctor is the only person charged in the patients' deaths. Mount Carmel fired 23 nurses, pharmacists and managers after an internal review and tightened its drug policies. While other healthcare workers are not facing legal charges, dozens were reported to their professional boards and could face disciplinary action.