The Ohio Board of Nursing is sending notices that could lead to discipline for 25 nurses who worked at Mount Carmel hospital as part of the investigation into the deaths of dozens of patients, reportedly from excessive doses of pain medication. The nurses now have 30 days to request a hearing to justify their actions in relation to administering the drugs ordered by Dr. William Husel.
Doctor Husel is under investigation on allegations he ordered excessive and potentially lethal doses to 35 patients. Multiple families have filed wrongful death lawsuits against Husel, the hospital, and nurses and pharmacists. All the nurses named in the "Notice of Opportunity for Hearing" worked at Mount Carmel West or St. Ann's.
Wednesday, Mount Carmel announced they've reported 48 nurses and pharmacists to state licensing boards. It's expected to take at least four months before it's known if any action will be taken, which could range from reprimands to loss of license.
The executive director of the Ohio Board of Nursing says they are working with law enforcement, but would not discuss specifics in the case. The Attorney General's office says it will litigate the administrative hearings for the nurses who were named.
“Nurses are professionals who have a duty to exercise their best judgement, and tens of thousands of them do, every single day,” said Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost. “These nurses didn’t. They should have questioned the orders to administer such a high dose of pain killers.”
Betsy Houcher, Board of Nursing Executive Director said the hearings are similar to a court proceeding and will allow the nurses due process.
“They are not suspended until a hearing goes through and the process is complete and board action is taken. They remain having an active license. That affords them an opportunity to present their information. The hearing examiner issues a report and recommendation and that is considered by the board. The majority of nurses operate very well and safely and adhere to the standards of practice, but there are complaints, the board takes those very seriously,” said Houcher.
On January 24, Yost called for the State Medical Board of Ohio to immediately suspend Husel’s license to practice medicine in Ohio. That board suspended Husel’s license the following day.
Mount Carmel responded to the action taken by the Board of Nursing in a statement:
We will continue to cooperate fully with the Board and other authorities, and our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the affected patients.
Nurses, pharmacists, and managers have been placed on administrative leave in connection with the case. So far no discipline has been imposed. The nurses have 30 days to ask for a hearing.
The administrative hearings are not criminal proceedings. The Franklin County Prosecutor's Office and Columbus Police are investigating Dr. Husel's actions.