US

Doctor Charged With 25 Counts of Murder After Allegedly Over-Prescribing Painkillers

By Zachary Stieber

An Ohio doctor facing a slew of wrongful death lawsuits was charged with 25 counts of murder after dozens of patients testified about how he handed out voluminous numbers of painkillers.

A grand jury indicted Dr. William Husel on the charges, which stem from the deaths of 25 patients at Mount Carmel Health System. Ten additional patients died in Husel’s care, investigators have said.

Each charge carries a sentence of 15 years to life in prison.

The Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office and the Columbus Division of Police started an investigation into Husel in December 2018 after the hospital fired Husel.

Most cases involve fentanyl, an opioid, being administered to patients as they were removed from ventilators and who were near death, Mount Carmel officials said earlier this year.

Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien told reporters on June 5 that the death penalty is not an option because Husel was not indicted on aggravated murder.

“We were comfortable pursuing murder charges. Based on that investigation and the expert testimony as opposed to believing we could prove aggravated murder, so the death penalty never really was under consideration,” O’Brien said, reported NBC 4.

Nurses, pharmacists, and other medical support staff provided information leading to the charges, he said.

Many of the nurses were newly certified and Husel provided an explanation as to why he was ordering the high doses of fentanyl that satisfied them, O’Brien said. He said that the charges were for cases that Husel ordered doses of at least 500 micrograms.

“At the 500 microgram level there would be no legitimate medical purpose,” he said, reported the Columbus Dispatch. “The only purpose would be to hasten their deaths.”

Husel turned himself in on Wednesday at the Columbus Police Headquarters. No one else was expected to be charged but several of the 30-plus nurses, pharmacists, and managers who were placed on paid administrative leave during the investigation could get their licenses revoked by state boards.

Christine Allison, the wife of Troy Allison, a 44-year-old whose death Husel was charged for, said that she was happy to receive the news from a police detective.

“I have never been so happy for someone to get arrested,” she told the Dispatch. “I am shaking. You just don’t understand what this has done to my life. You just don’t understand. No one can.”

Husel “destroyed my life,” she added.

Mount Carmel West Hospital
In this Jan. 15, 2019 file photo, the main entrance to Mount Carmel West Hospital is shown in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Andrew Welsh Huggins, File)

Husel has been facing a number of wrongful death lawsuits, along with his employer and, in some cases, other employees at the hospital. He still faces 19 lawsuits.

The family of Thelma Kyer became the eighth to agree to a settlement, WBNS reported on June 4. Kyler died 14 minutes after Husel ordered her to receive a dose of 400 micrograms of Fentanyl.

According to court records, Kyer’s family agreed to $700,000, with $139,000 going to the family’s attorney and Kyer’s three daughters getting the remainder.