Ohio doctor and hospital accused of 22 wrongful deaths

A doctor who worked from 2008 to 2013 as a resident in Ohio's Cleveland Clinic is under suspicion of causing wrongful patient deaths. The doctor, most recently employed by the Mount Carmel Health System located in Columbus, is under investigation by both hospital systems, as well as by the Ohio State medical authorities.

The Mount Carmel Health System recently fired the doctor and terminated dozens of medical staff who knowingly or unknowingly enabled the doctor to carry out what reporters call mass euthanasia by medication overdoses. The age range of patients whose families have come forward thus far with wrongful death lawsuits was 35 to 80 years old.

Lack of effective safeguards

Both the Cleveland and Columbus health care systems are conducting exhaustive reviews of data related to the doctor's patients, as well as identifying medical staff that followed the doctor's orders. The staff members should have recognized that the fentanyl doses ordered were grossly inappropriate. The doctor's wife, a nurse at the Mount Carmel West hospital, admitted that she administered at least one of the overdoses.

The Mount Carmel Health System is also included in the wrongful death litigation because it did not provide sufficient safeguards to alert medical oversight over a several-year pattern of large drug doses by a single doctor followed by multiple patient deaths. While the Cleveland and Columbus hospital systems are not related, the recent events raised concerns in the Cleveland Clinic's health system administration, triggering a parallel investigation into the doctor's activities. 

Wrongful death lawsuits multiply

The massive doses preceded the deaths of three people whose families are currently pursuing wrongful death lawsuits against the Mount Carmel Health System and the doctor. An additional 19 patients' families have since come forward as plaintiffs, alleging that the physician who administered mega-doses of the drug fentanyl caused death to their loved ones. More litigants may emerge as news of the intentional overdoses continues to spread.

Malpractice and wrongful death

A court will decide whether malpractice and/or wrongful death has occurred in each case involving the fentanyl overdoses. Depending upon how the court rules, a jury may award a massive settlement to the surviving family members for pain and suffering; however, Ohio and many states place a cap on the amount the jury awards. For example, some states cap a 10-million-dollar jury award at $500,000. In the same states, a case where the federal Emergency Medical Treatment & Labor Act comes into play will remove the cap on pain and suffering; the family receives the full jury award amount. Successful prosecution of these cases requires excellent knowledge of wrongful death laws and malpractice laws. All Ohio families deserve fair compensation when the medical system so tragically fails them.

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