Eight Wrongful Death Lawsuits Now Filed Against Mount Carmel

Jan 28, 2019

The seventh and eighth wrongful death lawsuits against Mount Carmel Health System and fired doctor William Husel were filed Monday. Husel, who had his medical license suspended last week, is accused of giving excessive doses of fentanyl to dozens of patients.

The seventh suit was filed by the family of Jeremia Hodge, who died at Mount Carmel West on April 1, 2018, after being administered a lethal dose of fentanyl.

According to the complaint, Hodge was transported to the ER at Mount Carmel West after experiencing shortness of breath. Physicians checked Hodge’s heart and evaluated her in the cath lab before admitting her to the ICU under the care of Husel.

“Defendant Husel informed Jeremia’s family that her organs were shutting down and that they needed to make a decision about whether to withdraw life support,” the suit alleges. “Upon information and belief, Defendant Husel then ordered a fatal dose of the drug Fentanyl be given to Jeremia Hodge through her IV, believed to be in excess of 500 micrograms.”

Timeline: The Mount Carmel Scandal So Far

The eighth suit is being brought forward by the family of Norma Welch, who died at Mount Carmel West on May 4, 2015. She was 85.

Welch was found at home and brought to Mount Carmel West on April 30, where she was given hydration and diagnosed with pneumonia. She was stabilized in the ICU, but on May 3, her conditioned worsened.

According to medical records provided by attorney Gerald Leeseberg, the patient's pain score was rated at 7 before Husel ordered the first "potentially lethal and excessive" dose of 400 micrograms of fentanyl. Within an hour, the patient's pain score was updated to a 10 and Husel administered another dose of 500 micrograms of fentanyl. Welch died just 20 minutes after receiving the second dose.

The suit claims the “grossly inappropriate dose was either ordered negligently and not properly reviewed, or was intentionally prescribed by Defendant Husel for the purposes of hastening the termination of Norma Welch’s life.”

Husel was an anesthesiologist and ICU doctor at Mount Carmel Health System from 2013-2018. According to the hospital, over his tenure Husel ordered excessive doses of painkillers for at least 34 patients. Husel was removed from patient care duty on November 21, 2018, before being fired on December 5.

Mount Carmel made their first public announcement about Husel’s firing on January 14.

Hodge’s family says they didn’t believe her death to be wrongful until this past December, when they were contacted by Mount Carmel regarding their internal investigation of Husel. Jeremia is survived by five sons, who attorney David Shroyer say "desire to speak out in the hopes that this will not happen again.”

The Hodge family suit accuses Husel and other employees of negligence, as well as accuses Mount Carmel and Trinity of negligent supervision. The suit also names Trinity Health System, the parent company of Mount Carmel, and several unnamed physicians, nurses and employees as defendants.

The Welch family suit includes Nathan Koccheiser, a pharmacist named in other wrongful death lawsuits, and nurse Amelia Powers as defendants.

Both suits seek punitive damages of at least $25,000.

On Friday, the Ohio Medical Board voted to suspend Husel’s license, while the Department of Medicaid suspended their provider agreement with Husel. That means Husel cannot practice medicine in the state of Ohio. He has 30 days to request a hearing, after which the board will decide on a permanent action.

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 paige.pfleger@wosu.org.