COLUMBUS (WCMH) – A Columbus doctor and the Mount Carmel Health System are being sued for allegedly intentionally administering a lethal dose of fentanyl to a woman in late 2017.  

The hospital has acknowledged 27 cases of near-death patients being administered excessive and potentially lethal doses of medication.

Tuesday, the Columbus Division of Police confirmed that investigators from the Cold Case Homicide Unit have been assigned to the case.

The wrongful death suit was filed by the estate of Janet Kavanaugh, who died at Mount Carmel West Hospital on December 11, 2017 at the age of 79.

According to the lawsuit, Doctor William Husel prescribed Kavanaugh an excessive amount of fentanyl for the purposes of hastening the termination of her life. Fentanyl is a powerful opioid pain medication, approximately 100 times stronger than morphine. Kavanaugh was given 1,000 micrograms of Fentanyl through an IV, causing her death within 18 minutes, according to the lawsuit.

Kavanaugh’s family said they learned of the fentanyl dosage more than a year after Kavanaugh’s death. A physician-administrator called the family and informed them of the fentanyl dose, according to the lawsuit.

Kavanaugh’s family said they were told the staff members involved in her care have been suspended from patient care.

Mount Carmel CEO Ed Lamb said Dr. Husel has been fired and 20 other employees have been removed from patient care pending further investigation.

Also Tuesday, The Cleveland Clinic confirmed that Husel was an employee there for five years prior to his employment at Mount Carmel. The Cleveland Clinic issued the following statement:

We just learned about the disturbing accusations against our former resident, Dr. William Husel, and take this matter very seriously. Currently, we are conducting a thorough investigation and internal review of his work while he was employed as a supervised resident from 2008 to 2013. Multiple safeguards are in place to protect patients from medication errors including electronic health record alerts, pharmacist reviews of all inpatient orders and routine controlled substance audits.”

The Franklin County Coroner’s Office is also participating in the investigation.

In early December 2018 Mt. Carmel and Trinity Health Systems notified this office and other appropriate authorities with regard to conduct by a medical employee. This office met with Doctors, executives and attorneys for the hospital and been in contact with other law enforcement and state regulatory agencies. Mt Camel and Trinity Health systems have been fully cooperative and responsive to lawful requests for additional information and documents. A thorough investigation is being conducted.At the present time this office is not able to answer questions until the investigation is completed.”