Three patients died after receiving excessive doses of pain medication at Mount Carmel Health System -- after the hospital had been alerted to potential problems with one of its doctors, the Ohio hospital said Thursday.
The Columbus hospital said the three people died "after receiving excessive and potentially fatal doses of medication" ordered by a doctor who has since been fired.
The president and CEO of the hospital, Ed Lamb, said in a statement that "at least" 34 patients were affected by the actions of Dr. William Husel, who was treating patients who were near death.
CNN has been unable to reach Husel, who worked for the hospital for five years. He does not appear to have an attorney.
The statement said 28 patients received an excessive dose; three of them died. Six others who died received excessive doses that went beyond providing comfort but that were not believed to be the cause of their deaths. Lamb said the hospital "might discover more" patients affected as its investigation continues.
Lamb said the hospital received a formal report on October 25, 2018, that related to the doctor's care. "Based on what we learned about that report, we should have begun a more expedited process to investigate and consider immediate removal of Dr. Husel from patient care at that time," he said.
The three patients died between October 25 and November 21, when the doctor was removed from patient care. The hospital fired him on December 5.
"We are sorry for this tragedy, and we will continue to investigate how we responded to this report and whether there is any other information that should have led us to investigate sooner into Dr. Husel's practices," Lamb said.
Lawsuit claims lethal dose of Fentanyl
The Ohio Department of Health says it is investigating. Franklin County prosecutors were unavailable Thursday. It's not known if there are any other pending investigations.
Four lawsuits have been filed in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas by survivors of patients of Husel, naming him, the hospital and others as defendants. The suits allege the excessive medication led directly to the deaths. One lawsuit concerns a patient who died in 2015.
One suit filed last week by the daughter of Janet Kavanaugh says the patient was given a lethal dose of the drug fentanyl on December 11, 2017.
Fentanyl is the deadliest drug in America, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.