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Ohio Hospital Intentionally Gave Woman Lethal Dose of Fentanyl, According to Lawsuit

Posted on Monday, January 21st, 2019 at 9:30 am    

Ohio Hospital Intentionally Gave Woman Lethal Dose of Fentanyl
Photo credits to WSYX/WTTE

A wrongful death lawsuit claims that Mount Carmel Hospital and its doctors and medical staff intentionally gave a 79-year-old patient a lethal dose of Fentanyl in order to quicken her death.

The victim, Janet Kavanaugh died on December 11, 2017 where she received the dosage at 5:45 AM and was pronounced death at 6:30 AM. Doctor William Husel, who was treating Kavanaugh reportedly ordered that she be given 1,000 micrograms of the drug through the victim’s IV. The amount of the drug prescribed was “grossly inappropriate and excessive”, according to a medical expert.

Despite the excessive prescribing of Fentanyl, lawyers say that either Mount Carmel’s electronic medical records system failed to flag it and alert Kavanaugh’s medical providers or it was flagged and ignored.

Pharmacist Talon Schroyer and nurse Tyler Rudman are also named in the lawsuit with claims they were aware of the excessive prescription.

The administrators of Mount Carmel called Kavanaugh’s daughter on December 28, 2018 and told that her mother was given an excessive dosage of Fentanyl and the staff members involved were suspended from their posts, according to the lawsuit. Kavanaugh’s daughter got another call on January 14, 2019 citing that at least 26 patients were victims of excessive and inappropriate Fentanyl dosages.

The lawsuit filed on behalf of Kavanaugh’s estate claims that the hospital was negligent for letting Dr. Husel practice in their facilities and negligent in supervising their staff.

A statement released by president and CEO of Mount Carmel Health System Ed Lamb stated the incident has been reported to the authorities after an internal investigation, terminated doctor’s employment, and removed him from all patient care. “We’re working hard to learn all we can about these cases, and we removed 20 hospital staff from providing further patient care while we gather more facts,” Lamb says.

Mount Carmel Health System’s full statement:

“Mount Carmel recently reported to authorities, the results of an internal investigation regarding the care provided by a doctor who, until recently, worked with patients requiring intensive care.

During the five years he worked here, this doctor ordered significantly excessive and potentially fatal doses of pain medication for at least 27 patients who were near death.

These patients’ families had requested that all life-saving measures be stopped, yet the amount of medicine the doctor ordered was more than what was needed to provide comfort.

On behalf of Mount Carmel and Trinity Health, our parent organization, we apologize for this tragedy, and we’re truly sorry for the additional grief this may cause these families. Our team has contacted these families and will continue to answer their questions and concerns as best as we can.

Following our discovery, we addressed related patient safety issues. We removed this doctor from all patient care and terminated his employment. We reported this situation to the appropriate authorities, including law enforcement. We changed processes to help ensure this event does not happen again.

We’re working hard to learn all we can about these cases, and we removed 20 hospital staff from providing further patient care while we gather more facts. This includes a number of nurses who administered the medication and a number of staff pharmacists who were also involved in the related patient care.

Mount Carmel provides compassionate care that takes into account the decisions of patients and their families. We believe in helping patients who are near death die peacefully and naturally.

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. We take responsibility for the fact that the processes in place were not sufficient to prevent these actions from happening. We’re doing everything to understand how this happened and what we need to do to ensure it never happens again. We’re joined in this effort by leaders of Trinity Health and we’ve asked outside experts to assist us.

Our integrated team is identifying immediate root causes to ensure that our best-practice care guidelines are followed. So far, these include a new escalation policy for increases in pain medication dosing and a new approval process for pain medication at high doses during similar situations.

For many years, Mount Carmel has worked to reduce medical errors and create a culture in which staff report concerns. In particular, over the past 18 months, we have engaged in ZeroHarm and High-Reliability training to stop preventable medical errors-work that puts systems into place to make the care we provide highly reliable and consistent. This focus on high-reliability helped us to discover these events because one of our employees spoke up and reported a safety concern.

Despite our meaningful progress in building a high-reliability organization, we recognize we have more work to do. We’re committed to making sure our employees work in an environment where they have the right to speak-up-without fear of retribution.

As with everything we do, we will continue to rely on our values to guide us in responding to these events. We will continue to do the right thing, to act with integrity and be transparent.

While these actions have brought shock and hurt to our organization, this will not define us.

Our more than 11,000 employees at Mount Carmel are outstanding professionals committed to safe, high-quality, people-centered care. Together, we will find strength in the values and beliefs we’re known for.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the involved patients and their families, and we ask for their forgiveness.

We will learn from this, and we will do better-because our patients and their families deserve our very best.”

wrongful death lawsuit

The Dangers of Fentanyl

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), fentanyl is a powerful drug similar to other opioids, but 50 to 100 times more potent. It’s a schedule II prescription drug and typically used to treat patients suffering from severe pain or to help them manage pain post surgery.

Fentanyl is often administered through an injection, lozenges or a transdermal patch. There are recent cases of Fentanyl overdoses that are produced or administered in clandestine laboratories or facilities. Non-pharmaceutical fentanyl often comes in other forms, including:

  • Tablets
  • Spiked on blotter paper
  • Powder
  • Mixed with or substituted with heroin

Why is Fentanyl Dangerous?

Potent opioids such as fentanyl can cause breathing to stop entirely which can lead to death. The higher the potency of the drug, the more at risk of overdose.  The medication naloxone is an opioid receptor that reverses overdose and restores normal breathing. Fentanyl overdose should be treated by this receptor and may require higher doses to successfully reverse the overdose.

Filing a Case Against Wrongful Death

Losing a loved one from another party’s negligence is one of the most devastating things that can ever happen to a family. Wrongful deaths in Houston are one of the many case types our lawyers at Williams Kherkher handle, and we understand the pain our clients go through.

We are here to help you pursue justice and bring the law to your side. Call us today at (713) 352-7071 or visit our office to start working with our team.


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