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Ohio doctor charged with murdering 25 patients with fentanyl overdoses

Suspicions were raised when patients in his care died with high amounts of the drug in their system

Joe Amon/The Denver Post via Getty Images

An Ohio doctor has been accused of causing the deaths of 25 patients by administering lethal doses of fentanyl over a nearly four-year period.

Here's what we know

William Husel was an intensive care doctor with the Mount Carmel Health System, which has hospitals in and near Columbus, Ohio. Suspicions against him were raised when patients like Troy Allison unexpectedly died in his care, and were found to have been given high doses of fentanyl. In Allison's case that dose was 1,000 micrograms — 10 times the amount that his widow's lawyers said would have typically been used for a patient.

In another case, 82-year-old Melissa Penix went to Mount Carmel for stomach pain and was given 2,000 micrograms of fentanyl. She died within minutes.

After Mount Carmel was alerted to Husel's potential crimes, the hospital let him continue to treat patients for four weeks before removing him. In those weeks, three patients under Husel's care were given high doses of fentanyl and died. A lawyer for Mount Carmel reported Husel to authorities in December 2018. The last death Husel is charged with causing was in 2018.

In addition to Husel, lawsuits have been filed by the families of his alleged victims against certain pharmacists and nurses working at Mount Carmel, as well as against the Mount Carmel Health System itself.

Columbus Division of Police Chief Thomas Quinlan said that Husel had committed a "vile" breach of his oath as a doctor.

What's next?

Husel, 43, has pleaded not guilty to all 25 counts of murder. His bail has been set at $1 million. Each individual murder charge could lead to a sentence of 15 years to life in prison. The State Medical Board of Ohio has also suspended his medical license.

Mount Carmel has insisted that safeguards are now in place to prevent something like this from happening in the future. Thirty nurses and pharmacists were reportedly put on leave for reasons related to these overdoses, while an additional 18 are no longer employed by Mount Carmel.

All 48 were reported to the boards overseeing their professions, but prosecutors have indicated that they will not pursue criminal charges against any of them.

One last thing…
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