A wrongful death lawsuit resulting from medical negligence was filed against Mount Carmel hospital, a doctor, and other medical staff claiming they intentionally gave a lethal dose of the drug Fentanyl to a 79-year-old woman in order to hasten her death.

The lawsuit was filed Monday, January 14, 2019 on behalf of the estate of Janet Kavanaugh, who died on December 11, 2017. Doctor William Husel, who was treating Kavanaugh, reportedly ordered she be given 1,000 micrograms of the drug through her IV. Lawyers say a medical expert called the amount of Fentanyl prescribed “grossly inappropriate and excessive.”

Fentanyl is an opioid similar to morphine, but 50 to 100 times more potent, according to the National Institutes for Health.

Lawyers say despite the excessive order of Fentanyl, either Mount Carmel’s electronic medical records system failed to flag it and alert Kavanaugh’s medical providers that it might be an error, or it was flagged and was ignored. The pharmacist at the time and the attending nurse were also named in the lawsuit, with claims that they knew it was excessive and inappropriate.

According to the lawsuit, Mount Carmel administrators contacted Ms. Kavanugh’s daughter on December 28, 2018, and told her that her mother was given an excessive dosage of Fentanyl, which hastened and/or caused her premature death, and that the staff members involved were suspended from patient care.

Lawyers say Kavanaugh’s daughter got another call from hospital administrators on January 14, 2019 indicating that at least 26 patients were victims of excessive and inappropriate dosages.

The lawsuit filed on behalf of Kavanaugh’s estate names the three medical professionals and the hospital, claiming Mount Carmel was negligent for letting Dr. Husel practice in their facilities, as well as negligently supervising employees.

Mount Carmel Health System sent out a statement from their president and CEO Edward Lamb, saying in part that they reported the situation to authorities after an internal investigation. They also said they removed the doctor from all patient care and terminated his employment. “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.”

The law firm of Colley Shroyer & Abraham with their staff of medical negligence professionals have a 40 year history of assisting victims and their families after medical tragedies like this occur.