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Doctor accused of murder in 25 patient overdose deaths

Posted in Featured, World

Published on June 09, 2019 with No Comments

An Ohio doctor was charged with murder in the deaths of 25 hospital patients who, authorities say, were killed with deliberate overdoses of painkillers that in many cases were administered by other medical workers on his orders.In one of the biggest cases of its kind ever brought against an American health care professional, William Husel was accused of ordering outsize doses of the powerful painkiller fentanyl to patients who were on ventilators and receiving palliative care between 2015 and 2018.

Husel, 43, pleaded not guilty after turning himself in earlier in the day. A judge set bail at $1 million. The doctor is the lone defendant. Authorities are not prosecuting nurses, pharmacists and others involved in the deaths, though dozens of those hospital employees have been reported to professional boards for investigation and potential disciplinary action.

Husel’s lawyer said he was trying to provide “comfort care” for dying patients.

“At no time did Dr. Husel ever intend to euthanize anyone — euthanize meaning speed up death,” defence attorney Richard Blake said. The patients were going to die whether they were being treated by Husel or another physician, Blake said.

The Columbus-area Mount Carmel Health System found Husel ordered potentially fatal drug doses for 29 patients over several years, including five who might have received those drugs when there still was a chance to improve their conditions with treatment. The hospital system said six more patients got doses that were excessive but probably did not cause their deaths.

Husel was fired in December and stripped of his medical license after concerns about his orders were brought to the attention of officials at Mount Carmel, where he had worked for five years.

More than two dozen wrongful-death lawsuits have been filed against the doctor and the hospital system, including one by Pfaff over the October 2017 death of her mother, Beverlee Schirtzinger.

The hospital system has publicly apologized and settled some of the cases for hundreds of thousands of dollars. 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.

 

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