We've talked before about the Ohio doctor who is accused of killing numerous patients with drug overdoses in a Franklin County hospital over just a three-year period. Now, as the case is moving into the courts and the doctor has been charged with murder, it's important to take a second look at what happened -- and how.
The 43-year-old physician who worked for the Mount Carmel Health System from 2015-2018 is now charged with 25 counts of murder. There are also at least 19 pending wrongful death claims against him and the hospital in civil court -- and eight more were already settled.
Most of the victims were overprescribed fentanyl. In some cases, it hastened what was likely an inevitable death. In other cases, it is entirely possible that the victims would have survived but for the doctor's action. He now faces a potential of life in prison if convicted, although his attorney claims that the doctor never intended to euthanize anyone and hopes to be vindicated at trial.
One major question that has erupted from this case is, "How? How did so many others stand by and follow orders when they knew they were likely to kill someone?" The pharmacists involved in filling the prescriptions should have asked questions or stopped the order. Nurses administering the doses should have stopped and demanded answers from their superiors before proceeding. Every computerized safety system in the process that got the drugs from the pharmacy to the patient should have alerted people that there was something wrong.
However, doctors hold a tremendous amount of power in hospitals -- far more than nurses or pharmacists. While around 20 people have been removed from their positions during the investigation, the overwhelming sense is that they simply followed orders in a system that is designed to make them follow orders. Nobody questioned the doctor's orders because nobody dares to question them.
Stories like this keenly remind people that they cannot be too careful, too cautious or too inquisitive about what is happening with their care or their loved ones' care. It only takes a single medication error to end a life.
If your loved one died under questionable circumstances in a hospital, it may be wise to find out more about your legal options.