Ohio doctor charged with 25 counts of murder, accused of prescribing excessive doses of painkillers


An Ohio doctor accused of ordering excessive and potentially fatal doses of opioids to dozens of near-death patients is facing multiple counts of murder, prosecutors announced Wednesday.

William Husel voluntarily surrendered to authorities and was charged in 25 deaths following a six-month investigation by the Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office. The patient deaths exposed a stunning case of medical oversight and alleged medical malpractice, and called into question how repeated failures potentially involving 30 or more employees could have gone unchecked for so long.

“I have not seen a 25-count murder indictment during my time as prosecutor,” Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien, who has been in his position for 22 years, said at a news conference.

Husel, 43, was employed with the Mount Carmel Health System, one of the largest in central Ohio, from 2015 to 2018. He was first suspended Nov. 21 and then fired two weeks later.

A motive for why Husel allegedly ordered such large amounts of fentanyl remains unclear, officials said.

He faces 15 years to life in prison if convicted. O’Brien said that the doses ordered by the doctor in the 25 deaths “could not support any legitimate medical purpose.” Although nurses and pharmacists followed Husel’s orders, the doctor remains the main focus of the criminal investigation, he added.

William Husel, a former doctor at Mount Carmel West hospital in Columbus, Ohio, is accused of giving dozens of patients excessive and potentially fatal doses of painkillers.WCMH

In a statement following Husel’s arrest, Mount Carmel Health System said it “will continue to implement meaningful changes throughout our system to ensure events like these never happen again.”

The hospital first revealed details about the case Jan. 14, after Franklin County prosecutors and Columbus police began interviewing dozens of witnesses and reviewing medical records. Prosecutors and police said they were investigating the deaths of at least 29 patients who may have been given large fentanyl doses to hasten their end.

The investigation took several months, O’Brien said, because detectives had to familiarize themselves with the various medical roles and conclude whether Husel was violating standard protocol.

Since many of Husel’s patients were not alert when they were in intensive care, then “if someone could not feel pain, there would be no legitimate medical reason to administer” the potentially fatal doses of fentanyl, O’Brien said.

The State Medical Board of Ohio suspended the intensive care doctor’s medical license in late January, saying its decision was based on his alleged “failure to meet acceptable standards regarding the selection of drugs, violations of the minimal standards of care and failing to cooperate in a board’s investigation.”

Husel was granted a hearing set for July to appeal the medical board’s decision. Greg Foliano, an attorney for Husel, could not immediately be reached for comment.

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