Michael C. Hennenberg

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Ohio doctor loses license, faces charges over alleged overdoses

Officials at the Mount Carmel Health Care System in the area of Columbus, Ohio, fired a 43-year-old doctor in December over concerns that he allegedly ordered patients to receive excessive amounts of medication. These concerns also caused the doctor to lose his license. Today, he is facing criminal charges in connection with 25 patient deaths allegedly resulting from drug overdoses that authorities claim were deliberate. 

The deaths reportedly occurred over a three-year period from 2015 to 2018. Many of the patients who died were receiving palliative care and/or were on ventilator machines. The alleged overdoses reportedly consisted of orders for 500 micrograms or more of fentanyl, an extremely powerful painkiller. 

According to the health care system's determination, 29 patients allegedly received potentially fatal doses of fentanyl on the doctor's orders. The doctor's defense attorney claims that the doctor's intention was not to cause or speed up patients' deaths but to provide comfort care. Nevertheless, despite the defense attorney's assertion that the patients' deaths would have occurred under any the care of any physician, the health care system alleges that continued treatment could have improved the conditions of five of the patients who eventually died. 

Surviving family members of the alleged victims have filed over two dozen wrongful death suits against both the hospital and the doctor himself. However, he is the only hospital employee whom authorities have decided to prosecute in connection with the case. 

Criminal charges related to medical malpractice have the potential to result in permanent loss of license in addition to fines or prison time. Doctors and other health care professionals facing such charges may wish to contact an attorney.

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