COLUMBUS, Ohio — Wrongful death civil lawsuits continue to pile up against Mount Carmel Health System, Dr. William Husel, nurses and pharmacists over allegations that several patients were given potentially deadly doses of narcotic pain medications.
The hospital has identified at least 34 people impacted, allegedly killed by doses of fentanyl.
At last check, at least eight wrongful death lawsuits have been filed against the hospital, Dr. Husel and a variety of nurses and pharmacists.
"I don't think anybody has ever tried a case like this, not in this type of situation," said attorney Mark Collins of Mark C. Collins Co, LPA.
Collins worked as a prosecutor and now as a defense attorney.
"My heart goes out to all the family members of the victims," he said, "but, here you are going to have issues in the criminal case, what I foresee are issues of hospital policy, issues of departmental policy, issues of individuals."
The Franklin County Prosecutor's Office and Columbus Police have been investigating since early December. But now, perhaps one of the biggest questions from viewers has been: why no criminal charges yet in the case?
The Prosecutor's Office said via email in part that "...with 28 patients, dozens of witnesses, and extensive medical records, the matter is still under investigation."
The hospital identified 34 people.
Collins shared his insight with ABC6/FOX28 on Monday.
"In that situation, even if you only had one charge of murder for one individual, one victim, you would think about all the different people you would have to interview just for that one person, now times that by 28," he said.
That could be hundreds of people.
He said there are likely a lot of medical records that can take a long time to access.
"The prosecutor's office will go through it thoroughly," he said, "they will look at each case on a case-by-case basis, and they will determine whether or not the medical records and the evidence is there to go for an indictment with a grand jury."
In the meantime, more civil lawsuits have been filed, as more families grieve.
The sons of Sue Hodge told the media Monday that she had just returned from a family picnic on Easter Sunday last year, when she was taken to Mount Carmel for shortness of breath.
Attorneys claim she then got a fatal dose of fentanyl.
"I can't even comprehend (how) any of this would happen and why there is not situations to stop something like this," said son Jacob Hodge.
As for Collins, he said be patient.
"It is a methodical pace because there is so much media in this case, there's so much scrutiny on this case both from the civil arena as well as the criminal arena," he said, "that they want to make sure that they have all their Ts crossed and there Is dotted so to speak, because the medical records here are going to be very, very important."
No criminal charges have been filed against Dr. Husel, or any of the nurses and pharmacists named in these civil lawsuits.
Husel's legal team has declined comment thus far.
Here are the names of the 10 patients identified so far:
They are Janet Kavanaugh, Bonnie Austin, Troy Allison, James Timmons, James Allen, Jan Thomas, Thelma Kyer, Joanne Bellisari, Sue Hodge and Norma Welch.
The following timeline and statement were released by Mt. Carmel last week:
We’re doing everything we can to understand what happened regarding the deaths of patients under the care of Dr. William Husel. We remain committed to being transparent with our colleagues and our community about this situation. We will continue to respect the privacy and rights of those involved – as federal and state privacy laws require. We also continue to cooperate with appropriate authorities, including law enforcement.
Based on our continuing investigation, we can now share the following information:
We received a formal report on October 25, 2018, that related to Dr. Husel’s care. 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. Dr. Husel was removed from patient care on November 21, 2018. We are aware of three patients who died between October 25 and November 21 after receiving excessive and potentially fatal doses of medication ordered by Dr. Husel. 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.
We have identified seven additional patients who received excessive doses of pain medication that Dr. Husel ordered. One of the patients received an excessive and potentially fatal dose. The other six patients received excessive doses that went beyond providing comfort but were likely not the cause of their deaths. We contacted the loved ones of these patients because it was the right thing to do. This brings the number of patients involved to at least 34, and we anticipate we might discover more as our investigation continues. We are continuing our investigation to review the records of all patients who were treated by Dr. Husel and died in the hospital. We also have engaged independent experts who are assisting us with this process. As with each of the affected families, we contacted them as soon as we were able to do so.
To ensure family members can make informed decisions about discontinuing life-saving measures, clinicians must provide complete and clinically accurate information about a patient’s condition, potential treatments, likelihood to recover and care options. Our investigation is determining if this practice was followed in each case.
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.
"These events are heartbreaking. We continue to investigate and learn more about these patients’ cases. As we learn more, we will share our findings with each affected family. We are committed to being open and honest about what happened and what we are doing to ensure it never happens again. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the patients and their families."
On Wednesday the Law Offices of Kevin Kurgis said they are representing two women have been identified as, Corrinnia Blake, 55, and Lora Stone, 78.