By JoAnne Viviano
and Marc Kovac
The Columbus Dispatch
The family of a longtime Upper Sandusky schoolteacher and coach has identified him as the lone patient who died at Mount Carmel St. Ann’s Hospital in Westerville among the 35 patients who died after a former intensive-care doctor allegedly ordered excessive doses of painkillers.
Robert P. Lee, 70, who taught and coached football and other sports for nearly three decades in Upper Sandusky before retiring, died on Oct. 13, 2017 at Mount Carmel St. Ann’s.
Lee had arrived at the hospital midday on Oct. 12, 2017, due to cardiac arrest, according to Ohio Department of Health records. About three hours after Lee’s arrival, a nurse wrote a note in his chart saying a conversation had been held with Sharon R. (Patton) Lee, his wife of 43 years, who had agreed to a do-not-resuscitate order, the records show.
Lee received a single, 500-microgram dose of fentanyl administered 19 minutes before he was pronounced dead at 8:20 a.m. on Oct. 13, the records show. Mount Carmel policies updated following Dr. William Husel’s firing indicate that 25 to 100 micrograms is the usual adult dosage for the drug.
The 500-microgram dose was given despite Lee having been administered the same drug at a slow rate, 25 micrograms per hour, through his IV line since the night before, documents from the State of Ohio Board of Nursing show.
A nurse who removed the fentanyl from a medication-dispensing cabinet used an override that would have avoided warnings and pre-approval by a pharmacist, according to the nursing board. A different nurse has been identified by the board as administering the drug.
About an hour before he died, Husel (identified as Physician A in state records but whom Mount Carmel has said ordered all the doses) had written that Lee’s family was in full agreement to withdraw care.
In a statement, Lee’s family told The Daily Chief-Union, the newspaper in Upper Sandusky, that they were “saddened by this shocking news and the circumstances surrounding Robert’s death… This has brought back the pain of Robert’s death and has left us wondering how and why this could have happened. Robert is sorely missed by his family, friends and the Upper Sandusky community. Along with other families affected by Dr. Husel’s conduct, the Lee family grieves with the other families impacted by what happened within the Mt. Carmel Health System. We ask for respect and privacy during this difficult time.”
The family had not filed suit in the matter as of late Friday. Twenty-six wrongful death lawsuits have been filed against Husel and Mount Carmel Health System.
Mount Carmel has said that Husel, 48, of Liberty Township near Dublin, ordered inappropriate painkiller doses for 35 critically ill patients — all but Lee patients at Mount Carmel West in Franklinton — with the dosages high enough to be potentially fatal for 29 of them. Nursing board documents indicate that the incidents date to at least 2014.
Husel’s medical license was suspended, and he is under investigation by law enforcement. One of his lawyers has said he did not intend to kill anyone.