Physician Practice Roundup—Ohio doctor denies lawsuit allegations that he ordered fatal pain drugs

Medical justice
An Ohio doctor denies he negligently or intentionally prescribed pain medications to end a patient’s life. (Getty/yavdat)

Ohio doctor denies lawsuit allegations that he ordered fatal pain drugs

A doctor accused of ordering excessive pain drugs for dozens of Ohio hospital patients who died responded to a lawsuit by denying he negligently or intentionally prescribed those medications to end one patient’s life, according to an Associated Press report.

The attorney for William Husel, D.O., who was fired from Mount Carmel Health System in December, also argued the doctor is immune to the lawsuit under Ohio law. The lawsuit was brought after the September death of Bonnie Austin, 64, and alleged that Husel ordered excessive doses of painkillers to end her life.

In the court filing, Husel’s lawyer is seeking dismissal of the lawsuit, one of at least 23 wrongful death and medical negligence lawsuits filed against Husel and Mount Carmel. The hospital system fired Husel after an investigation in which it found the doctor had ordered potentially fatal drug doses for at least 29 patients over several years. (Associated Press)

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Patients aren’t checking Sunshine Act database to see if physicians have ties to pharma industry

There’s a database to inform patients about whether their doctor takes payments from pharmaceutical or medical device companies, but few patients are using it, according to a BMJ study.

The Open Payments database, which details drug company payments to physicians, was set up by the U.S. government under the Sunshine Act. But two years after it was launched, just 13% of those surveyed knew industry payment information was publicly available and only 3% knew whether their doctor had received payments.

The study findings, along with results of a previous study, “suggest that Open Payments has fallen well short of its aspiration to better inform patients of their physicians’ industry relationships,” the researchers said. (BMJ)

Alzheimer’s Association survey finds many doctors don’t test senior patients for dementia

While primary care physicians say it’s important to assess older patients for signs of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, many aren’t doing so, according to a survey.

Findings from the Alzheimer's Association’s report 2019 Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures (PDF) show that 94% of primary care physicians say it is important to assess all seniors for cognitive impairment, but they report assessing, on average, just half of their patients for thinking and memory problems.

And when patients were asked, only one in four seniors (26%) report having a healthcare provider ever ask them if they have concerns about their thinking or memory without their bringing it up first.

Nearly all the physicians surveyed said they would like more information and guidance to help them with cognitive assessments of their senior patients. The Alzheimer’s Association provides a free cognitive assessment toolkit (PDF) to help. (Alzheimer’s Association—PDF)

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