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Ohio doctor charged with 25 counts of murder in hospital patient overdose deaths

COLUMBUS – A Columbus doctor accused of prescribing excessive doses of painkillers to critical-care patients over several years faces 25 murder charges.

Former Mount Carmel doctor William S. Husel, 43, is accused of killing patients or hastening their deaths by ordering excessive doses of fentanyl, ranging from 500 micrograms to 2,000 micrograms. A typical dose is between 25 and 100 micrograms.

“This breach of the doctor’s oath is vile,” Columbus Police Chief Tom Quinlan said Wednesday.

Husel was charged with 25 counts of murder in Franklin County Common Pleas Court Wednesday for patient deaths that occurred between February 2015 and November 2018. If convicted, Husel would face 15 years to life in prison for each count.

Husel surrendered to police custody Wednesday morning. He pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Husel’s attorney, Richard Blake, called his client’s actions “comfort care.”

“The patients that we are talking about are end-of-life patients. The people were being kept alive primarily due to equipment in the hospital,” Blake said. “They were going to die whether Dr. Husel was on or whether another doctor was.”

Husel would order the painkillers, and nurses would administer them to patients in the intensive care unit, according to civil lawsuits filed by relatives of victims. Nurses or pharmacists often had to override the hospital’s medication-dispensing cabinets to access such high doses.

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