Authorities say an Ohio doctor is responsible for the deaths of 25 patients for whom he prescribed excessive doses of the opioid painkiller fentanyl. William Husel has been charged in all those deaths following a six-month investigation, reports NBC News, which calls the deaths "a stunning case of medical oversight." Nurses and pharmacists followed Husel's orders, which prosecutors say had no legitimate medical reasoning, but Husel is the main focus of the investigation. Even so, 30 hospital employees have been placed on leave and another 18 with connections to the case no longer work at the medical center. Per 10TV and the Columbus Dispatch, Husel is accused of ordering excessive painkiller doses for 35 patients, all of whom died, but authorities believe not all of them died due to the overdoses. In all cases, the families had opted to withdraw lifesaving measures.
Husel, 43, was employed at Mount Carmel Health System as an intensive care doctor from 2015 to 2018, the time period when the deaths took place. He was suspended Nov. 21, fired two weeks later, and had his medical license suspended in January. When police first revealed the investigation in January, they said they were probing deaths that may have been hastened by excessive doses of fentanyl. In announcing the charges, Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien said many of the patients involved were not alert when the potentially fatal doses were administered: "If someone could not feel pain, there would be no legitimate medical reason" to do such a thing, he said. The patients are said to have been near death. A motive remains unclear. If convicted, Husel faces 15 years to life in prison per count. He pleaded not guilty Wednesday. He also faces at least 19 wrongful death lawsuits; another eight have already been settled. (This nurse's aide was called the "angel of death.")