Dr. William Husel accused of murder after intentionally overprescribed painkillers to 25 patients over the course of five years at Ohio’s Mount Carmel Health System.
An Ohio critical-care doctor has been charged with murder following the overdose deaths of 25 intensive care patients who authorities say were deliberately overprescribed painkillers, chiefly fentanyl.
The charges against Dr. William Husel, 43, represent one of the biggest murder cases ever brought against a health care professional in the US.A.
Appearing in court on Wednesday, Husel pleaded not guilty to 25 counts of murder, with a judge setting bail at $1 million. Husel could face up to 15 years to life for each murder count, the Columbus Dispatch reported.
Hussel was fired from the Columbus-area Mount Carmel Health System in December and stripped of his medical license after the allegations against him began to surface. An internal hospital investigation found that he had ordered potentially fatal drug doses for dozens of patients over his five years at the hospital.
At least five of the patients might have lived if given proper care, health officials told the Dispatch in February.
Dr. William Husel a former physician at Mt Carmel was indicted today on 25 counts of murder. He was given a $1 million bond. The case involves the deaths of 25 patients where the Prosecutor says they were over prescribed fentanyl which sped up their deaths. pic.twitter.com/z0b3dphaid
— Kevin Landers (@Kevin10TV) June 5, 2019
Dr. William Husel attorney insists there was no attempt to euthanize patients.
Husel’s attorney insisted the doctor never meant to overprescribe or cause anyone’s death, but did not give a reason as to why he would have administered such high doses – in some cases more than 10 times the recommended dosage.
‘I can assure you there was never an attempt to euthanize anyone by Dr. Husel,’ said Husel’s attorney, Richard Blake. ‘At no time did he ever intend to euthanize anyone. He wants to clear his name at trial.’
The motive remains unclear. Though many of the patients were seriously ill, hospital officials said some might have improved with treatment. Police Sgt. Terry McConnell said none of the families who talked with police believed that what happened was ‘mercy treatment,’ x reported.
Franklin County prosecutor Ron O’Brien said there are no plans to charge any other staff members.
PHOTOS: Here is a photo gallery of the alleged victims of Dr. William Husel, who was arrested and charged with murder Wednesday in the deaths of 25 hospital patients. https://t.co/LjVOeQIJ6P
— NBC4 Columbus (@nbc4i) June 5, 2019
It remained unclear how Dr. William Husel, a pharmacist and nurses were able to order, approve and administer the vastly overprescribed medications without permission.
Still pending are 19 wrongful death lawsuits, and eight have been settled, the Columbus Dispatch said. Mount Carmel has publicly apologized and settled some of the cases for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
‘This breach of a doctor’s oath is vile,’ acting Columbus police Chief Thomas Quinlan told the Columbus Dispatch. ‘It is our sincere hope that the families of these victims will find solace by the state of Ohio holding Dr. Husel accountable for his devious conduct.’
Mount Carmel has said it should have investigated and taken action against Husel more quickly. It said that the doctor wasn’t removed from patient care until four weeks after concerns about him were raised last fall, and that three patients died during that gap after receiving excessive doses he ordered.
It remained unclear how Husel, a pharmacist and nurses were able to order, approve and administer the vastly overprescribed medications without permission.
Hospital officials have said all employees who had a role in administering medication to the victims have been removed from patient care as a precaution.
All told, 48 nurses and pharmacists were reported to their respective professional boards. Thirty of those employees were put on leave, and 18 no longer work there, including some who left years ago, officials said.