Mount Carmel announced Thursday they discovered seven additional patients who received "excessive doses of pain medication" under the care of fired doctor William Husel. That brings the total number of patients affected to 34.
The hospital also admitted fault for failing to act promptly, and reported three of Husel's patients died between the time the hospital received a formal report about Husel's behavior, and when it removed the doctor from patient care duty. The hospital says it recieved the first report on Oct. 25, 2018, but Husel wasn't removed from patient care until November 21.
Husel was fired on December 5.
"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," the hospital said.
Another 20 hospital staff, including nurses and pharmacists, were also removed from patient duty.
Mount Carmel alerted the families of Husel's patients in late December, but did not announce publicly his firing until Jan. 14, 2019, after a lawsuit was filed against Husel and the hospital.
In Thursday's press release, the hospital said it identified one additional patient who "received an excessive and potentially fatal dose" of pain medication, and six patients who recieved excessive doses "that went beyond providing comfort but were not likely the case of their deaths."
Mount Carmel says it expects to discover more patients affected as its investigation continues. Husel worked at the hospital since 2013.
Also on Thursday, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost says he requested the State Medical Board immediately suspend Husel's license.
"It looks like we may have a serial killer on the loose with a medical license and access to fentanyl,” Yost said in an interview.
The State Medical Board previously reported no items on Husel’s disciplinary record, but said that doesn't mean Husel was never investigated.
The hospital says it is still investigating the reasons behind Husel's actions. Originally, the hospital stated all patients involved were near death, but a recent statement casts doubt on whether or not all options were exhausted before the fentanyl was ordered and administered.
"We are investigating whether Dr. Husel ordered excessive doses of medication when there was still opportunity to explore if there were reversible causes of patients' immediate conditions," the hospital said.
Four wrongful death lawsuits against Mount Carmel and Husel have been filed by the families of Husel's patients. Two more suits are expected to be filed later Thursday.
The Ohio Department of Health opened an investigation last week into Mount Carmel, on behalf of the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
If you are a Mount Carmel staffer who has information to share, or you believe your loved one or family member was impacted by this case, contact WOSU at firstname.lastname@example.org.