Euthanasia is as strongly divisive a topic as abortion. On both issues, you have a question of religious morality versus autonomy. Should you have the right to end your own suffering? Doctors who have offered this service to people have been prosecuted and imprisoned for murder.
Recently, Dr. William Husel of Mt. Carmel in Columbus is being accused of administering his patients fatal doses of the potent opioid fentanyl. Husel is being sued by family members for medical malpractice and wrongful death.
According to reports, Husel administered fatal doses of the drug to 27 “near-death” patients. Mr. Carmel has cut ties with Husel after being named in at least three lawsuits.
In one instance, a 64-year-old waitress was admitted to the hospital with heart problems. The hospital told her husband that she needed to be put on a machine. Later, she was admitted to the ICU where her husband was told she was brain dead. She later died of what her husband was informed was a fentanyl overdose.
In another instance, a patient was given 1000 micrograms of fentanyl, which is considered a lethal dose.
These cases arose out of a nationwide debate considering the merits of physician-assisted suicide. In the cases, a doctor administered a lethal dose of a pain medication in order to ease the patient’s passing. In states where this is legal, the doctors administer the doses at the request of a suffering patient. To date, only five states allow the practice — Washington, Oregon, Vermont, Colorado, and California. Montana has also legalized it, but it is currently caught up in the need to implement a regulatory structure to oversee the process.
Ohio has not legalized the practice. A bill that would have allowed terminally ill patients to self-administer a lethal dosage of pain medication died in committee.
Regardless of what opinion you may have on the topic of physician-assisted suicide, what Husel did was illegal. He, without the consent of his patients, euthanized them against the wishes of their family members. While damages may not be extensive in the case of those who were already on their deathbed, a jury will likely award punitive damages to the plaintiffs in order to punish the doctor for wrongdoing.
The Toledo personal injury attorneys at Lafferty, Gallagher & Scott have successfully litigated numerous medical malpractice lawsuits in the State of Ohio. If you have been injured by medical negligence, give us a call or talk to us online in order to set up a free consultation.
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