Dr. William Husel turned himself in and is being charged with twenty-five counts of murder for prescribing high doses of fentanyl.
Ohio physician Dr. William Husel turned himself into Columbus police following a six-month investigation into his practice of overprescribing opioids at Mount Carmel Hospital and was subsequently charged with twenty-five counts of murder. The hospital referred to his prescribing practices as “inappropriate” after it was discovered the doctor administered high doses of fentanyl to many of his patients.
Mount Carmel Health System terminated Husel in December of last year. Mount Carmel President and CEO, Ed Lamb, said at the time the health system formally launched its investigation, “We are sorry for this tragedy, and we will continue to investigate how we responded to this report and whether there is any other information that should have led us to investigate sooner into Dr. Husel’s practices.”
Lamb also said that the hospital works with families to help dying patients: “We believe in helping patients near death die peacefully,” he said, adding, “the actions instigated by (Husel) were unacceptable” and “have brought shock and hurt to our organization.”
If convicted, Husel could spend fifteen years to life in prison for each count, according to Franklin County prosecutor Ron O’Brien. He added, “By giving fentanyl at these levels, we were comfortable with the information we had that it was a sufficient amount that the only rational purpose could be to shorten a person’s life.”
The murders Husel is charged with committing spanned from February 2015 to November 2018, according to the court docket. O’Brien said Mount Carmel Hospital suspects Husel in 35 patient deaths. A partial timeline of events leading up to the charges follows:
“Jan. 14: The first lawsuit is filed over the deaths…alleging a ‘grossly excessive dosage of the powerful painkiller fentanyl was ordered to hasten the death of 79-year-old Janet Kavanaugh in December 2017’;
Jan. 14: Allegations against Husel become public as the hospital system releases a statement revealing the deaths of 27 patients who received doses of pain medication that were potentially fatal;
Jan. 16: In the first public comments from a family member, David Austin, of Columbus, says he felt ‘like somebody kicked me in the chest’ when he was told of the alleged circumstances of the death of his wife of 36 years, Bonnie Austin, in September. The same day, Mount Carmel says it identified a 28th patient;
Jan. 17: The widow of a man treated by Husel says news of the circumstances of her husband’s death left her shocked that such a scenario could happen despite procedural and technological safeguards. Christine Allison, of Columbus, says ‘the system failed tremendously’ in the case of her 44-year-old husband, Troy;
Jan. 19: The Ohio Department of Health confirms its investigation of Husel on behalf of the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services;
Jan. 25: State Medical Board suspends Husel’s license…Two additional lawsuits filed, over the deaths of 69-year-old Joanne Bellisari in May 2015 and 80-year-old Jim Allen in May 2018.”
Husel graduated from Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine and completed his internship and residency at the Cleveland Clinic Hospital and his fellowship at the Cleveland Clinic Hospital in critical care. The Clinic said, “We are taking this matter very seriously and immediately launched an internal investigation. A preliminary review found that his prescribing history during his employment as a resident at Cleveland Clinic was consistent with appropriate care provided to patients in the intensive care unit.”