COLUMBUS (WCMH) — A lawyer has identified another person who is believed to have died from a large dose of fentanyl at Mount Carmel West Hospital.
According to Attorney Gerry Leeseberg, James Nickolas Timmons was 37-years-old when he died at Mount Carmel West on October 24, 2018. An autopsy confirmed his cause of death as fentanyl intoxication.
Leeseberg told NBC4 that his office is still waiting on medical records to confirm the precise dosage. He said Timmons’ family was contacted by Mount Carmel in late December and again on the day the first lawsuit was filed.
Timmons was originally hospitalized for a suspected cocaine overdose.
“To our knowledge, he is the youngest of the identified patients involved in this situation and to our knowledge, he’s the last of the patients to have been involved in this situation with Dr. [William] Husel,” Leeseberg said.
Mount Carmel has stated that it has identified 27 patients of Dr. William Husel who were given excessive and possibly fatal doses of pain medication.
Mount Carmel CEO Ed Lamb said Dr. Husel has been fired and 20 other employees have been removed from patient care pending further investigation.
Mount Carmel issued the following statement:
Mount Carmel recently reported to authorities, the results of an internal investigation regarding the care provided by a doctor who, until recently, worked with patients requiring intensive care.
During the five years he worked here, this doctor ordered significantly excessive and potentially fatal doses of pain medication for at least 27 patients who were near death.
These patients’ families had requested that all life-saving measures be stopped, yet the amount of medicine the doctor ordered was more than what was needed to provide comfort.
On behalf of Mount Carmel and Trinity Health, our parent organization, we apologize for this tragedy, and we’re truly sorry for the additional grief this may cause these families. Our team has contacted these families and will continue to answer their questions and concerns as best as we can.
Following our discovery, we addressed related patient safety issues. We removed this doctor from all patient care and terminated his employment. We reported this situation to the appropriate authorities, including law enforcement. We changed processes to help ensure this event does not happen again.
We’re working hard to learn all we can about these cases, and we removed 20 hospital staff from providing further patient care while we gather more facts. This includes a number of nurses who administered the medication and a number of staff pharmacists who were also involved in the related patient care.
Mount Carmel provides compassionate care that takes into account the decisions of patients and their families. We believe in helping patients who are near death die peacefully and naturally.
The actions instigated by this doctor were unacceptable and inconsistent with the values and practices of Mount Carmel, regardless of the reasons the actions were taken. We take responsibility for the fact that the processes in place were not sufficient to prevent these actions from happening. We’re doing everything to understand how this happened and what we need to do to ensure it never happens again. We’re joined in this effort by leaders of Trinity Health and we’ve asked outside experts to assist us.
Our integrated team is identifying immediate root causes to ensure that our best-practice care guidelines are followed. So far, these include a new escalation policy for increases in pain medication dosing and a new approval process for pain medication at high doses during similar situations.
For many years, Mount Carmel has worked to reduce medical errors and create a culture in which staff report concerns. In particular, over the past 18 months, we have engaged in ZeroHarm and High-Reliability training to stop preventable medical errors—work that puts systems into place to make the care we provide highly reliable and consistent. This focus on high-reliability helped us to discover these events because one of our employees spoke up and reported a safety concern.
Despite our meaningful progress in building a high-reliability organization, we recognize we have more work to do. We’re committed to making sure our employees work in an environment where they have the right to speak-up—without fear of retribution.
As with everything we do, we will continue to rely on our values to guide us in responding to these events. We will continue to do the right thing, to act with integrity and be transparent.
While these actions have brought shock and hurt to our organization, this will not define us.
Our more than 11,000 employees at Mount Carmel are outstanding professionals committed to safe, high-quality, people-centered care. Together, we will find strength in the values and beliefs we’re known for.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the involved patients and their families, and we ask for their forgiveness.
We will learn from this, and we will do better—because our patients and their families deserve our very best.