A wrongful death lawsuit filed Monday against Mount Carmel Health System says an intensive-care doctor who has been accused of prescribing multiple patients potentially fatal doses of fentanyl prescribed a 58-year-old South Side man a different opioid shortly before his death.
Donald McClung died on Sept. 18 shortly after receiving 10 milligrams — called an “excessive and fatal” amount — of intravenous hydromorphone, or Dilaudid, ordered by Dr. William Husel, according to the suit filed on behalf of McClung’s wife, Vickie McClung.
Of 14 previous lawsuits filed in Franklin County Common Pleas Court, each says the 43-year-old Husel, of Liberty Township, ordered fatal doses of fentanyl for patients. In at least one case, a patient also was given a 10-milligram dose of Dilaudid, and in that case and several others, patients were also given the sedative midazolam, known as Versed.
McClung had been admitted to Mount Carmel West hospital in Franklinton on Sept. 10 with shortness of breath and mild congestive heart failure, according to the suit filed by lawyers at the Rourke & Blumenthal firm in the Brewery District. He was sent to the intensive care unit a week later, and doctors told his family he would undergo a procedure to treat an abnormal heart rhythm and possibly receive a pacemaker.
“They gave us hope that things were going well. Don was acting like he was getting back to himself,” the family said in a statement.
At about 2 a.m. on Sept. 18, the lawsuit says, Husel called McClung’s family to tell them his condition was deteriorating, and his status was changed to do-not-resuscitate with no escalation in care. Shortly after the call, family members visited McClung, who was sitting up and breathing on his own.
“We visited Don and he seemed fine to us. He wasn’t struggling to breathe at all while talking to us,” the family statement said.
About two hours after the visit, and shorty before his death, McClung was given 4 milligrams of Dilaudid, followed by a 6-milligram dose 14 minutes later, the suit says.
Husel has been accused of ordering excessive painkiller doses for 34 patients, dating back to at least February 2015, with all but one at Mount Carmel West and the other at Mount Carmel St Ann’s hospital in Westerville. The hospital system has said the doses were potentially fatal for 28 of the patients, but not likely the cause of death for six.
Columbus police and the Franklin County prosecutor’s office are investigating, and Husel’s license has been suspended by the state Medical Board of Ohio.
In McClung’s case, his family said his death came within 13 hours of doctors saying he might need a pacemaker.
“Donald McClung suffered injury, was stripped of the dignity of life, had his rights violated, and ultimately died.” the lawsuit says. ” … Donald McClung suffered a loss of chance of recovery from his medical condition.”
The lawsuit charges wrongful death, negligence, battery and intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress against Mount Carmel, Husel, a pharmacist and two nurses said to have been involved in the dosing and unnamed hospital administrators and employees.