New wrongful death lawsuit filed against Mount Carmel, Husel

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A 29th lawsuit has been filed against Mount Carmel Health System and a doctor accused of killing intensive-care patients with high doses of painkillers.

The lawsuit in Franklin County Common Pleas Court alleges that 55-year-old Drake Mills was administered “grossly excessive doses” of the opioid fentanyl and other sedatives and pain relievers that inhibited his ability to breathe.

The doses were given in the hours surrounding Mills’ removal from a ventilator, also called extubation, at the former Mount Carmel West Hospital in Franklinton, the lawsuit says. He died early on June 24, 2018, about two hours after the machine was removed, it says.

The suit says the medications were either ordered negligently or were intentionally prescribed for the purposes of hastening Mills’ death.

It names Dr. William Husel, Mount Carmel, its Michigan-based parent companyTrinity Health Corp., two other doctors, a nurse and a pharmacist. It does not provide dosages or detail which doctors ordered medications.

Asked about the suit, Mount Carmel spokeswoman Samantha Irons said “the individual is not one of patients affected by Dr. Husel’s actions.”

The health system has said 43-year-old Husel, of Liberty Township near Dublin, ordered excessive doses of painkillers for 35 patients in the roughly four years before his December firing. His medical license has been suspended, and a Franklin County grand jury has indicted him on 25 counts of murder.

His lawyer has said the doctor was providing comfort care to patients near death and never intended to euthanize or harm anyone.

Attorney Scott Perlmuter of Cleveland, who filed the lawsuit on Thursday in Mills’ death, said the ventilator withdrawal was termed “palliative care” by Mills’ health-care team, indicating that there was no chance of survival.

“That is not an accurate way of characterizing this particular extubation,” Perlmuter said. “This was a patient who had a chance of survival and who should have been treated in a fashion that would have promoted his chance of survival, and that’s not what occurred.”

Mills suffered from chronic pancreatitis and, as a result, was unable to process narcotics at a normal rate, the suit says. It further says that he had been placed on an IV drip of fentanyl on June 20, 2018. His condition improved, and the health-care team took measures to increase his chance of survival upon ventilator withdrawal but also administered the excessive medication doses, according to the suit.

Mills, who had recently moved to Columbus from Detroit, had arrived at the hospital on June 11, 2018, with abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, the suit says. He subsequently suffered cardiac arrest from internal bleeding.

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@JoAnneViviano