David Shroyer of the firm Colley Shroyer & Abraham filed a wrongful death suit on behalf of David Austin whose wife died of a drug overdose ordered by her doctor.
David Austin said he called an ambulance in September after his wife, Bonnie Austin, had trouble breathing. A doctor told him she was brain dead after she suffered cardiac arrest.
At least three wrongful death lawsuits have now been filed against Dr. William Husel, the Columbus-area Mount Carmel Health System, and nurses and pharmacists employed by the system.
The lawsuits accused the doctor of ordering near-death hospital patients be given potentially fatal doses of pain medicine without their families’ knowledge.
Mount Carmel announced this week that the intensive care doctor ordered pain medicine for at least 27 patients in dosages significantly bigger than necessary to provide comfort for them after their families asked that lifesaving measures be stopped.
Mt. Carmel publicly apologized and said it has fired Husel, reported findings of its internal investigation to authorities and removed 20 employees from patient care pending further review.
The announcement involving patients from the past few years raised questions about whether drugs were used to hasten deaths intentionally and possibly illegally.
A lawsuit filed by David Austin on Tuesday alleges his wife, 64, was killed negligently or intentionally in September when she was given an outsize dose of the painkiller fentanyl and a powerful sedative ordered by a doctor who said she was brain-dead.
Austin, a retired truck driver in Columbus, said Wednesday he filed the lawsuit in the hopes nothing like this would happen again. Austin, 64, said he’s struggling to understand the doctor’s alleged actions.
The lawsuit was filed against Husel, the health system, a pharmacist who approved the drugs and a nurse who administered them.
The lawsuit, which seeks financial damages, is aimed at determining what happened and why, and ensuring it’s not repeated, Shroyer said.
The Franklin County prosecutor said Mount Carmel has cooperated with an ongoing investigation.
Shroyer said he expects the case will prompt other hospitals to review their own procedures and safeguards.
“I think every hospital in the country is going to be saying, ‘Could this happen at our hospital? And if it can, let’s fix it,’” he said.