Human Rights

Horror: 27 patients euthanized through drug overdose at Ohio hospital

euthanized, disability

An Ohio Hospital is facing allegations that employees euthanized 27 patients between 2015 and 2018. The Columbus Dispatch reports that Mount Carmel Health Systems released a statement admitting that a doctor in the intensive care unit prescribed “significantly excessive and potentially fatal” doses of pain medication to at least 27 patients.

The doctor accused of killing the patients, Dr. William Husel, has been fired, and the hospital system has turned over details of an internal investigation to the authorities, an executive said in a statement.

The public statement from the hospital came after a lawsuit was filed against Dr. Husel, a pharmacist, and a nurse, alleging that they administered a fatal dose of a narcotic to a 79-year-old woman in 2017. All the patients allegedly killed or hastened in death by drug overdose had been removed from lifesaving care at the request of their families.

According to the Columbus Dispatch, the lawsuit indicated:

“Janet Kavanaugh was given a given 1,000 micrograms of fentanyl through an IV on Dec. 11, 2017, and died within 18 minutes. The opioid is about 100 times stronger than morphine.” Dr. Stephen Bird, a doctor specializing in emergency medicine and toxicology, filed an affidavit with the lawsuit indicating that the amount of fentanyl given to Kavanaugh was “inappropriate and excessive.”

Gerald Leeseberg, an attorney, filed the lawsuit on behalf of Kavanaugh’s estate. He told the Columbus Dispatch, “She [Kavanaugh] was an old woman with some health issues. That’s really not in dispute. The problem is, somebody or some people in the medical field appear to have made a unilateral decision about terminating her life or hastening her death.”

Other lawsuits on behalf of the families of other patients are expected.

Mount Carmel has taken steps to implement several safety measures to ensure that actions like these do not occur again. Yet disturbingly, it is becoming more and more possible that patients may be involuntarily euthanized as assisted suicide grows across the United States.

Hawaii recently became the sixth state in which it is legal for doctors to prescribe a lethal drug to patients who request assisted suicide. In some countries, assisted suicide advocates are pushing for euthanasia even without the informed consent of patients.

As the tragic unfolding case of 27 patients allegedly euthanized without consent in Ohio shows, there is a world of difference between appropriately administering pain medication in a person’s final days or weeks, and deliberately killing a person through a fatal drug overdose. Assisted suicide does not relieve suffering; assisted suicide ends lives.

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