The doctor, who pleaded not guilty to all charges, could face 15 years to life for each count if convicted.
A former critical care doctor is facing multiple counts of murder, accused of administering fatal doses of fentanyl to patients.
While a typical dose of fentanyl is between 25 and 100 micrograms, as the Cincinnati Enquirer noted, William Husel gave patients between 500 and 2,000 micrograms of the powerful opioid.
Husel allegedly “purposely caused the death” of 25 patients; he “shortened their life and hastened or caused their death” by giving lethal amounts of fentanyl between February 2015 and November 2018, according to the Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office.
Husel surrendered to police on Wednesday (June 5) and pleaded not guilty to all charges. He could face 15 years to life for each count if convicted.
The intensive care patients that came to Mount Carmel Health System, where Husel worked until he was fired last December, were already suffering from cancer or other ailments. “In many instances, relatives had given permission to not resuscitate their family members,” the Enquirer noted.
Husel’s attorney argued that the patients’ health would have declined whether or not Husel treated them. “The patients that we are talking about are end-of-life patients,” Richard Blake said according to the Enquirer. “The people were being kept alive primarily due to equipment in the hospital. They are going to die whether Dr. Husel was on or whether another doctor was.”
Blake maintained that “at no time did he ever have the intent to euthanize anyone,” according to NBC News.
Husel was fired from Mount Carmel last December after working there since 2013. Around Christmas, relatives of the deceased were informed by the hospital that Husel’s over-prescribing had led to their family members’ deaths, the Enquirer reported. This triggered lawsuits against Husel, the hospital and staff. His medical license was suspended in late January and a criminal investigation was launched.
Mount Carmel CEO Ed Lamb recently released a video statement in which he said, “We take responsibility for the fact that the processes in place were not sufficient to prevent these actions from happening.”
Husel is also the target of 19 wrongful-death lawsuits, according to NBC News. Eight other lawsuits have been settled.
Dozens of employees who worked at the hospital were placed on leave or no longer work there. This case has left many wondering how Husel’s actions went unchecked for years under Mount Carmel’s system of care.
“What remains unclear is how Husel could circumvent apparent rules that would require him to order medications through an in-house pharmacy team and then convince a nurse to administer the drug,” NBC News reported.