Medical records show that 82-year-old Melissa Penix died at Mount Carmel West Hospital on November 21, 2018, a few minutes after being given a 2,000 microgram dose of fentanyl.
Attorneys representing her family say Dr. William Husel also prescribed two paralytic drugs (Nimbex and Vecuronium) for Penix shortly before having a conversation with family members about the prognosis of Penix.
A statement from the law firm of Leeseberg and Valentine said:
It appears this may have been done to create the appearance that the patient was comatose and unresponsive, in order to support recommendations that the family withdraw life support. Shortly after the paralytics were given, and the family was informed Ms.Penix was “brain dead,” the family agreed to withdraw life support. At that point, Dr. Husel administered 2000 mcg of Fentanyl and 10 mg of Versed through an IV push, causing the patient’s death within 5 minutes.
Mount Carmel says it has identified 34 patients who were given excessive doses of pain medication on orders from Dr. Husel. It says 28 of those patients received potentially lethal doses.
Former Franklin County Prosecutor Mike Miller says the additional information about the use of paralytics adds a new level of severity to potential criminal charges. “I think it changes everything. I think it becomes, of the ones I’ve heard so far, the worst fact pattern for the doctor.” “Could it be aggravated murder? If certain facts are met in the prosecutor’s mind, yes it could be.”
Husel was fired by Mount Carmel in December. The state medical board, which suspended his license in January, notified Husel Wednesday that it plans to consider further action up to and including permanent revocation.
This comes one day after the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services approved the Plans of Correction for Mount Carmel West and Mount Carmel St. Ann’s.
The plans are now widely public, with at least one attorney hopeful they will lead to positive change at hospitals everywhere.
“I think these things are going to make a difference,” said David Shroyer, who is representing three families in wrongful death lawsuits against Husel and Mount Carmel. “This is good that corrective steps have been taken. It’s good that this is a public document that is now out for circulation for other people to look at, and I would hope that other hospitals would look at this and compare these new policies that are going into effect to the policies that they have in their hospitals.”