Ohio Doctor Charged with 25 Counts of Murder After Overprescribing Opioids

William Husel, 43, has been charged with 25 counts of murder after allegedly ordering fatal doses of opioids for over two dozen patients. Husel worked for the Mount Carmel Health System, one of the largest in Ohio, from 2015 to 2018. Dozens of hospital employees and nurses were also named in the court filing, revealing widespread medical malpractice. As the case unfolds in court, prosecutors are still trying to figure out why Husel essentially euthanized his patients.

Learn more about this shocking story and Husel’s alleged crimes.

A Pattern of Overprescribing

Husel has been employed with the Mount Carmel Health System in Central Ohio since 2015. He was first suspended on November 21st, 2018 and then fired two weeks later.

During his time at the hospital, Husel had a habit of ordering large doses of opioids for near-death or elderly patients. Many patients were given doses of fentanyl exceeding 500 micrograms. But lawyers on the case say up to 100 micrograms of fentanyl would have been standard for these patients, depending on their condition and size of their bodies. Thus, Husel was prescribing up to five times the normal amount.

In many cases, Husel’s actions appear to have been fatal. Beverlee Schirtzinger, 63, went to the hospital for a liver biopsy in 2017. She died just 11 hours after arriving at the hospital. But her daughter’s lawyers say Husel ordered 500 micrograms of fentanyl for Beverlee right before she died.

In another case, Melissa Penix, 82, went to Mount Carmel West for stomach pains in November of 2018. Her family said she was given 2,000 micrograms of fentanyl just five minutes before she died.

Bringing Husel to Justice

During a six-month investigation, the Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office investigated the deaths of at least 29 patients who may have died as a result of Husel’s actions. Prosecutors interviewed dozens of witnesses and reviewed patient medical records during the investigation. In the end, prosecutors believe Husel was responsible for 25 patient deaths and charged him with 25 counts of murder.

The case also mentions several nurses and pharmacists at the hospital, yet Husel remains the target of the investigation. It remains unclear how Husel managed to order and administer these drugs to his patients for so long without raising concerns from his colleagues. Typically, the doctor would order medications through an in-house pharmacy team who would then review the prescriptions. The doctor would also have to convince a nurse to administer the drug.

Hospital officials confirmed that 30 employees, including pharmacists and nurses, were placed on leave earlier this year. 18 employees tied to the case are no longer with the hospital, with many of them having left years earlier.

Following Husel’s arrest, Mount Carmel Health System released a statement, saying it “will continue to implement meaningful changes throughout our system to ensure events like these never happen again.”

Husel’s Motive Remains Unclear

Prosecutors are still having trouble attributing a motive to Husel’s actions. It remains unclear whether Husel intentionally overprescribed opioids to his patients and what he hoped to gain from the situation.

Many of Husel’s patients were unconscious at the time they were given opioids. If the patient was unconscious, they could not feel pain, thus there was no reason to administer such a large dose of opioids.

Husel pleaded not guilty to the charges. His lawyer, Richard Blake, told a local news outlet, “This is not a murder case. I can assure you there was never any attempt to euthanize anyone by Dr. Husel. At no time did he ever have the intent to euthanize anyone.”

It appears Husel wants the chance to clear his name. Stay tuned to see how these charges play out in court.

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