HospitalsRegulatory

$4.5M in settlements over deaths tied to doc in murder case

June 19, 2019

An Ohio hospital system has reached nearly $4.5 million in settlements so far over the deaths of patients who allegedly received excessive painkiller doses ordered by a doctor now charged with murder.

At least 29 wrongful-death lawsuits have been filed against the Columbus-area Mount Carmel Health System and now-fired intensive care doctor William Husel, who pleaded not guilty to murder charges in 25 deaths that occurred between 2015 and 2018.

His lawyer has said Husel was providing comfort care to dying patients, not trying to kill them.

Mount Carmel has reached settlements in seven cases to date, plus two that didn’t involve lawsuits.

“It is our hope that these settlements will bring some measure of closure and comfort to the families,” Mount Carmel said in a statement. The hospital system has also publicly apologized for the patient deaths.

The settlements range from $200,000 to $700,000. In most cases, patients’ families get two-thirds or less of the payouts from the hospital’s insurers. The rest goes to their attorneys.

The families and the lawyers aren’t commenting on the settlements, citing related confidentiality agreements.

The hospital system has asked a court to pause proceedings in the other lawsuits while Husel’s criminal case is pending. Mount Carmel said it is working with families’ attorneys in the civil cases “to resolve these matters fairly” outside of court.

Mount Carmel might have an interest in settling cases before Husel’s potential criminal trial to avoid the risk that information exposed during such a trial would point to more liability by the hospital system — a scenario that would “add zeroes to the settlement checks,” said Michael Benza, a law professor at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.

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Chris J. Stewart

Chris currently serves as Chief Operating Officer at Ortho Spine Partners. Prior to that, he was the assistant vice president and business unit leader of Medical Device Management for HealthTrust.

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