(CNN) - A doctor is accused of giving potentially fatal doses of pain medication to at least 27 patients who were near death, according to an Ohio hospital.
The osteopathic physician ordered "more than what was needed to provide comfort" to patients whose families had requested that all life-saving measures be stopped, Mount Carmel Health System in Columbus said in a statement.
The doctor was removed from patient care and fired, following an internal investigation, the hospital said. He had worked at the hospital for five years, Ed Lamb, Mount Carmel's president and CEO said in a statement.
The incidents have been reported to authorities, Lamb said.
CNN sought comment from the doctor but was unable to secure a phone number.
The doctor, hospital, one pharmacist and one nurse are named in a lawsuit filed on behalf of one patient who died. The lawsuit alleges the death was the result of a lethal dose of fentanyl.
It is unclear if any other patients may have died as a direct result of the doctor's actions.
"We're still gathering facts, and we're cooperating and sharing information with authorities, including the prosecutor," the hospital said in response to a question about additional deaths. "While that's happening, we won't be able to release all of the details of this tragedy."
The hospital said it has removed 20 members of its staff from patient care while the investigation continues, including nurses who administered the medication and pharmacists who were involved in patient care.
"On behalf of Mount Carmel and Trinity Health, our parent organization, we apologize for this tragedy, and we're truly sorry for the additional grief this may cause these families," the hospital's statement said. "Our team has contacted these families and will continue to answer their questions and concerns as best as we can."
Medicine given 'without consent,' lawsuit says
A lawsuit filed on Monday by the daughter of Janet Kavanaugh, one of the 27 patients, says Kavanaugh was given a lethal dose of the drug fentanyl on December 11, 2017.
The suit alleges that the dose provided no therapeutic function and was given without Kavanaugh's consent.
The complaint alleges that either the hospital's medical records system failed to flag the high dosage as an error, or medical staff was alerted to the risks associated with the dose but "ignored the alerts because the order was intended to hasten the termination of Janet Kavanaugh's life."
Fentanyl is the deadliest drug in America, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The suit seeks more than $25,000 in damages.
"The actions instigated by this doctor were unacceptable and inconsistent with the values and practices of Mount Carmel, regardless of the reasons the actions were taken," Mount Carmel said in a statement. "We take responsibility for the fact that the processes in place were not sufficient to prevent these actions from happening. We're doing everything to understand how this happened and what we need to do to ensure it never happens again."
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