Physician Practice Roundup—Lawsuits filed alleging a doctor gave near-death patients fatal pain drugs

A physician in scrubs in a hospital hallway
An investigation continues into allegations an Ohio doctor gave potentially fatal doses of a painkiller to 27 patients in the Mount Carmel Health System. (Getty/NanoStockk)

Lawsuits filed alleging a doctor gave near-death patients fatal pain drugs

Lawsuits have been filed in the case of an Ohio doctor who allegedly gave potentially fatal doses of a painkiller to 27 patients in the Mount Carmel Health System.

Families have filed at least three wrongful death lawsuits against William Husel, D.O., according to the Associated Press. In a statement, Mount Carmel’s President and CEO Edward Lamb said during the five years he worked there, Husel ordered significantly excessive and potentially fatal doses of pain medication for at least 27 patients who were near death. Lamb said Husel ordered doses that were significantly larger than necessary to provide comfort care after patients’ families asked that lifesaving measures be stopped.

Mount Carmel said it reported the results of its internal investigation to authorities, fired the doctor and removed 20 hospital staff from patient care pending further review. (Associated PressStatement (PDF))

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Study says doctors should evaluate penicillin allergies

While many patients report they are allergic to penicillin, few actually have clinically significant reactions to the medication, according to a new JAMA study.

Researchers advise doctors to evaluate patient reports they are allergic to penicillin before deciding not to use it or other related antibiotics. Among their recommendations is for doctors to ask patients the details of their reaction when allergies are unverified to determine if there was another cause.

Patient reports that they are allergic to the medication result in the use of broad-spectrum antibiotics that increase the risk of antimicrobial resistance and adverse events, the study noted. (JAMA)

In Florida, change would remove ‘stigma’ of mental health treatment for doctors

Studies have shown that a fear of being dismissed or losing their medical license keeps many doctors from seeking treatment for mental health issues and substance use disorders.

But with physician burnout and suicides on the rise, a committee of the Florida Board of Medicine is considering a change to remove the “stigma” for doctors seeking treatment, according to Health News Florida.

The committee gave preliminary approval to eliminate the questions about past treatment of mental health and substance abuse from the licensing process. Instead, the licensing application would ask doctors whether they have any condition that impairs them from safely practicing and whether they currently are using drugs or intoxicating chemicals. Currently, doctors are asked whether they have been treated for mental health or substance abuse disorders in the past five years. The change would require full board approval and is not without opposition. (Health New Florida)

Ohio doctors certified to approve patients for marijuana aren’t participating

While Ohio is among 23 states now permitting medical marijuana with a doctor’s consent, many of the physicians there who got state-certified to recommend patients for treatment aren’t fully participating in the program, according to The Columbus Dispatch.

An estimated 80% of the 353 doctors certified to participate in the program to help patients who want medical marijuana to treat one of the state’s 21 eligible medical conditions, aren’t doing so. Many signed on to keep up with the regulations and others are concerned about drug abuse and turning away patients seeking approval for medical marijuana, the newspaper said.

Some major hospitals, including the Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals, also prohibit staff doctors from verifying patients for medical marijuana cards issued by the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy. (Columbus Dispatch article)

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