Ex-Mount Carmel physician charged with murder of 25 patients

A former physician at Columbus, Ohio-based Mount Carmel Health System, was charged June 5 in the deaths of 25 hospital patients, according to The Columbus Dispatch.

The murder charges against William Husel, DO, came after a six-month criminal investigation by the Columbus police. The investigation concluded that Dr. Husel purposely caused the deaths of dozens of patients between 2015 and 2018 by ordering excessive painkiller doses for near-death, intensive care patients.

Although the health system said that 35 patients were identified as having received excessive pain medication, the criminal charges focus on the 25 patients that were given at least 500 micrograms of fentanyl, which is considered potentially lethal. Some of the patients received 1,000 micrograms and two patients received 2,000 micrograms, according to the report.

"At the 500 microgram level, there would be no legitimate medical purpose," Ron O'Brien, one of the prosecutors in the case, told The Dispatch. "The only purpose would be to hasten their deaths."

Mount Carmel Health System first removed Dr. Husel from patient care in November 2018 after receiving several formal reports about his actions. The health system fired him in December 2018.

"Mount Carmel has made and will continue to implement meaningful changes throughout our system to ensure events like these never happen again," Ed Lamb, president and CEO of Mount Carmel Health System, told Becker's. "There is nothing more important to Mount Carmel than the safety of our patients and their trust in us. Providing compassionate care to patients and their families is one of our most sacred responsibilities. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the families of patients affected by this tragedy."

Dr. Husel's attorney said the former physician didn't intend to kill anyone.

Dr. Husel has been suspended from practicing medicine by Ohio's medical board and is at risk of losing his license.  

Five managers and at least 30 nurses and pharmacists have been placed on administrative leave by the hospital as the investigation of the painkiller doses continues.

Read the full report here.

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