(CNN) — Three patients died after receiving excessive doses of pain medication at Mount Carmel Health System hospitals — after officials had been alerted to potential problems with one of their doctors, the Ohio hospital system said Thursday.
The Columbus hospital group said between October 25, when the system received a report related to the doctor’s care, and November 21, when he was removed from patient care, three people died “after receiving excessive and potentially fatal doses of medication” ordered by the doctor.
The president and CEO of the hospital, Ed Lamb, said in a statement that “at least” 34 patients were affected by the actions of Dr. William Husel, who was treating patients who were near death. All the patients are deceased, a hospital spokesperson said.
Three of those patients died after the hospital system received a formal report relating to the doctor’s care.
CNN has been unable to reach Husel, who worked for the hospital system for five years. He does not appear to have an attorney.
Of the 34 patients affected, 28 patients received excessive and potentially fatal doses of medication, said hospital system spokeswoman Samantha Irons. Six others who died received excessive doses that went beyond providing comfort but that were not believed to be the cause of their deaths. Lamb said the institution “might discover more” patients affected as its investigation continues.
“Based on what we learned about that report, we should have begun a more expedited process to investigate and consider immediate removal of Dr. Husel from patient care at that time,” Lamb said.
The doctor was removed from patient care on November 21. The hospital system fired him on December 5.
“We are sorry for this tragedy, and we will continue to investigate how we responded to this report and whether there is any other information that should have led us to investigate sooner into Dr. Husel’s practices,” Lamb said.
Lawsuit claims lethal dose of Fentanyl
The Ohio Department of Health says it is investigating.
Franklin County prosecutor Ron O’Brien said his office is conducting a thorough investigation and that Mount Carmel Health System has been fully cooperating.
The State Medical Board of Ohio voted Friday to immediately suspend Husel’s osteopathic medicine and surgery license, based on what it called allegations of failure to meet standards on drug selection, violation of the minimal standards of care and failing to cooperate with investigators.
Husel has 30 days to request a hearing, which would decide permanent action.
Four lawsuits have been filed in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas by survivors of patients of Husel, naming him, the hospital system and others as defendants. The suits allege the excessive medication led directly to the deaths. One lawsuit concerns a patient who died in 2015.
One suit filed last week by the daughter of Janet Kavanaugh says the patient was given a lethal dose of the drug fentanyl on December 11, 2017.
Fentanyl is the deadliest drug in America, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.