Franklin County prosecutors on Wednesday announced 25 murder charges have been filed against Dr. William Husel, the former Mount Carmel intentisve care physician accused of ordering "excessive" doses of painkillers for patients who died shortly after receiving them.
Husel worked as an anesthesiologist and ICU doctor at Mount Carmel West from 2013 until his firing in December 2018. Mount Carmel says during that time, at least 34 patients were given higher-than-usual painkiller doses under his care.
Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien says doses of 500 micrograms of fentanyl were chosen as a threshold for murder charges because they “hastened” death of these patients. O'Brien says the doses were a violation of Ohio law that says people must be allowed to die naturally.
O'Brien did not consider nurses and pharmacists involved in the administering and dispensing of drugs to be co-conspirators. He says many of the nurses who worked alongside Husel were early in their career.
Husel surrendered to Columbus Police at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday and pleaded not guilty during arraignment Wednesday afternoon. His bond was set at $1 million.
Husel and Mount Carmel have been named in at least 24 wrongful death lawsuits.
Responding to one lawsuit, Husel in a recent court filing denied intentionally ending a patient's life with a painkiller dose. Husel's lawyer argued the doctor is immune from lawsuits under state law.
Ed Lamb, president and CEO of the Mount Carmel Health System, said in an emailed statement on Wednesday morning that they will continue to cooperate with the investigation.
"We appreciate the County Prosecutor’s leadership and his ongoing commitment to justice in this case," Lamb said. "Following the discovery of the actions of Dr. Husel, we notified appropriate authorities, including law enforcement. We have shared information with them and will continue to fully cooperate throughout their investigation."
Lamb also said Mount Carmel is working to implement safeguards to ensure excessive doses are not given to patients in the future.
Originally, the hospital stated all patients were near-death and on life support, but later announced the conditions of five of those patients could have possibly improved.
In February, the Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office released a statement saying it was investigating 29 deaths connected to Husel.
The State Medical Board of Ohio is also investigating Husel.
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