Published: Fri, June 07, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

OH doctor accused of murdering 25 patients with painkiller overdoses

OH doctor accused of murdering 25 patients with painkiller overdoses

A critical care doctor in the USA state of OH has been charged with murdering 25 patients, by allegedly ordering fatal doses of pain medication.

It turns out that the accused doctor William Husel has a criminal past.

Dr. William Husel appeared in Franklin County Court before Magistrate Jennifer Cordle, who set his bond at $1 million. Since then, the hospital identified 34 patients who were given excessive doses of fentanyl at Husel's orders over a five-year period.

The investigation began last December, when Mount Carmel fired Husel and reported him to the prosecutor's office.

If the case goes to trial, legal experts said, a key challenge for prosecutors would be proving that Husel ordered doses without medical justification and intending to cause deaths, even if the drugs were actually administered by a nurse or other colleague.

The hospital system found Husel ordered potentially fatal drug doses for 29 patients, including five who might have received those drugs when there still was a chance to improve their conditions with treatment.

The charges make up one of the biggest murder cases brought against a doctor in the United States.

"At no time did Dr. Husel ever intend to euthanize anyone - euthanize meaning speed up death", Husel's lawyer Richard Blake said Wednesday. "There is nothing more important to Mount Carmel than the safety of our patients and their trust in us".

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After Husel was charged, Mount Carmel officials pledged to continue co-operating with authorities.

Simmons and Hoffmeister said they found it interesting that no other medical workers were charged in the case despite being aware of or involved in the high doses.

Police Sgt. Terry McConnell said none of the affected families police spoke with felt what happened was "mercy treatment".

More than two dozen wrongful-death lawsuits have been filed against Husel and the hospital system, some of which have been settled by the hospital for hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to the Associated Press.

All employees who had a role in administering medication to the victims have been removed from patient care as a precaution, hospital officials have said.

OH prosecutors charged a physician Wednesday with more than two dozen counts of murder, for prescribing fatal doses of opioids to near-death patients. Forty-eight nurses and pharmacists were reported to their respective professional boards, 30 of whom were put on leave, and 18 no longer work at Mount Carmel, including some who left years before allegations surfaced.

Records show no prior disciplinary action against Dr Husel by the Ohio State Medical Board.

In one of the biggest such cases on record, Donald Harvey, a former nurse's aide dubbed the Angel of Death, confessed in 1987 to killing 37 people, a lot of them hospital patients, over the span of two decades in OH and Kentucky.

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