Ohio: Doctor accused of murder in 25 patient overdose deaths

Former critical care doctor William Husel, center, pleads not guilty to murder charges in the deaths of 25 hospital patients while appearing with defense attorney Richard Blake, right, in Franklin County Court on Wednesday, June 5, 2019, in Columbus, Ohio. Husel denies allegations that he ordered overdoses of painkillers for patients to hasten their deaths. (AP Photo/Kantele Franko)

By KANTELE FRANKO, Associated Press  COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) 05/05 — A critical care doctor was arrested and charged with murder Wednesday in the deaths of 25 hospital patients authorities say were deliberately given overdoses of painkillers.

The charges against Dr. William Husel, 43, form one of the biggest murder cases ever brought against a health care professional in the U.S.

He pleaded not guilty to 25 counts of murder, and a judge set bail at $1 million.

Former critical care doctor William Husel is seen Wednesday, June 5, 2019 in a photo provided by the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office. Husel was arrested and charged with murder Wednesday in the deaths of 25 hospital patients who authorities say were deliberately given overdoses of painkillers. He pleaded not guilty to 25 counts of murder, and a judge set bail at $1 million. (Franklin County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

 

Husel was fired from the Columbus-area Mount Carmel Health System in December and stripped of his medical license after the allegations against him began to surface. An internal hospital investigation found he had ordered potentially fatal drug doses for dozens of patients over his five years at the hospital.

A lawyer for Husel has said he did not intend to kill anyone.

The motive remains unclear. Though many of the patients were seriously ill, hospital officials said some might have improved with treatment, and police Sgt. Terry McConnell said none of the families who talked with police believed that what happened was “mercy treatment.”

Franklin County prosecutor Ron O’Brien said there are no plans to charge other staff members.

Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien announces murder charges against former critical-care doctor William Husel in the deaths of 25 hospital patients, at a news conference Wednesday, June 5, 2019, in Columbus, Ohio. Husel pleaded not guilty. (AP Photo/Kantele Franko)

 

More than two dozen wrongful death lawsuits have been filed against the doctor and the hospital system. Mount Carmel has publicly apologized and settled some of the cases for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Mount Carmel has said it should have investigated and taken action against Husel more quickly. It said that the doctor wasn’t removed from patient care until four weeks after concerns about him were raised last fall, and that three patients died during that gap after receiving excessive doses he ordered.

Hospital officials have said all employees who had a role in administering medication to the victims have been removed from patient care as a precaution.

Amy Pfaff, right, and her attorney, Gerry Leeseberg, discuss the murder charges brought against William Husel, the doctor accused of deliberately ordering painkiller overdoses for Pfaff’s mother and two dozen other hospital patients who died, during a news conference Wednesday, June 5, 2019, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Kantele Franko)

 

All told, 48 nurses and pharmacists were reported to their respective professional boards. Thirty of those employees were put on leave, and 18 no longer work there, including some who left years ago, officials said.

In one of the biggest such cases on record, Donald Harvey, a former nurse’s aide dubbed the Angel of Death, confessed in 1987 to killing 37 people, most of them hospital patients, over the span of two decades in Ohio and Kentucky.

https://www.apnews.com/76da21c000334718bf3ff6971303a8d4

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Posted in: Arrests, Deaths, Homicide, Murder/Attempted Murder, Victims of Crime

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