COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A jury was seated Wednesday in the case of an Ohio doctor accused in multiple hospital deaths, with the long-awaited trial scheduled to begin next week.
William Husel is accused of ordering excessive painkillers for patients in the Columbus-area Mount Carmel Health System. He was indicted in cases involving at least 500 micrograms of the powerful painkiller fentanyl.
Prosecutors said ordering such dosages for a nonsurgical situation indicated an intent to end lives. Husel has pleaded not guilty and says he was providing comfort care for dying patients, not trying to kill them.
Jurors are expected to hear from at least 50 prosecution witnesses, likely medical experts, as well as additional defense witnesses, The Columbus Dispatch reported.
Husel, 46, was originally charged with 25 counts of murder. Last month a judge agreed to dismiss 11 of those counts against Husel at the prosecution’s request.
The 25 charges were brought in 2019 by a different prosecutor. Current Prosecutor Gary Tyack said in January 2021 that he favored dismissing some of the counts against Husel and proceeding with fewer cases.
“Hanging over the case is the question of how Mount Carmel, a 136-year-old Catholic hospital owned by the giant Trinity Health system, allowed this pattern of care to continue for so many patients over 4 years, and why numerous registered nurses and hospital pharmacists went along with Husel’s actions.” – Medscape
VICTIM PROFILE: Danny Mollette, age 74
MEDSCAPE – On Dec. 5, 2017, Danny Mollette was brought to the emergency department of Mount Carmel West Medical Center in Columbus, Ohio, in critical condition. Staff inserted a breathing tube and sent him to the intensive care unit.
Mollette, who had diabetes, previously had been hospitalized for treatment of a gangrenous foot. When he arrived in the ICU, he was suffering from acute renal failure and low blood pressure, and had had two heart stoppages, according to a 2020 Ohio Board of Pharmacy report.
He was placed under the care of William Husel, DO, the sole physician on duty in the ICU during the overnight shift.
Around 9 PM, Husel discussed Mollette’s “grim prognosis” with family members at the patient’s bedside. He advised them that Mollette had “minutes to live” and asked, “How would you want him to take his last breath: on the ventilator or without these machines?”
In less than an hour, Mollette was dead. Some said that what happened in his case was similar to what happened with 34 other ICU patients at Mount Carmel West and Mount Carmel St. Ann’s in Westerville, Ohio, from 2014 through 2018 — all under Husel’s care.
Like Mollette, most of these gravely ill patients died minutes after receiving a single, unusually large intravenous dose of the powerful opioid fentanyl — often combined with a dose of one or more other painkillers or sedatives like hydromorphone — and being withdrawn from the ventilator.
These deaths all occurred following a procedure called palliative extubation, the removal of the endotracheal tube in patients who are expected to die.
Mount Carmel fired Husel in December 2018 following an investigation that concluded that the opioid dosages he used were “significantly excessive and potentially fatal,” and “went beyond providing comfort” … READ MORE.
Timeline of the William Husel case
The Columbus Dispatch
2013: William Husel begins working for Mount Carmel Health System. Administrators have said he was an intensive-care doctor who worked primarily at Mount Carmel West hospital in Franklinton.
February 2015: According to the State Medical Board of Ohio, this is when Husel first provided substandard care and jeopardized the safety of critically ill patients.
Feb 10, 2015: A patient dies at Mount Carmel West after being administered 400 micrograms of fentanyl
Feb. 11, 2015: Emma Bogan dies at Mount Carmel West.
March 1, 2015: Jan Thomas dies.
May 4, 2015: Norma Welch dies.
May 10, 2015: Joanne Bellisari dies.
April 3, 2017: Ryan Hayes dies.
Oct. 9, 2017: Three patients die at Mount Carmel West: Timothy Fitzpatrick, Beverly Schirtzinger and Peggy Francies. Husel was not charged in Francies’ death.
Oct. 11, 2017: Michael Walters dies.
Oct. 13, 2017: Robert P. Lee dies at St. Ann’s.
Nov. 20, 2017: Thomas Mathews
Dec. 5, 2017: Danny Mollette dies
Dec. 10, 2017: Larry Brigner dies
Dec. 11, 2017: Janet Kavanaugh dies
Jan. 14, 2018: Two patients die – Brandy McDonald and Francis Burke.
March 25, 2018: Charles Longstreth dies.
April 1, 2018: Jeremia “Sue” Hodge dies
May 28, 2018: James Allen dies
July 15, 2018: Troy Allison dies
Sept. 25, 2018: Corrinnia Blake dies
Sept. 30, 2018: Bonnie Austin dies
Oct. 24, 2018: James “Nick” Timmons dies
Oct. 25, 2018: Mount Carmel receives formal report regarding Husel’s care.
Nov. 13, 2018: Sandra Castle dies
Nov. 19, 2018: Rebecca Walls dies. Mount Carmel receives second formal report regarding Husel, broadens investigation.
Nov. 20, 2018: Melissa Penix dies.
Nov. 21, 2018: Mount Carmel receives third report regarding Husel, removes the doctor from patient-care duties.
Dec. 5, 2018: Mount Carmel fires Husel, notifies State Medical Board of Ohio, meets with Franklin County prosecutor; as of this date, 24 patients are believed to have received excessive painkiller doses ordered by Husel.
Dec. 7, 2018: Mount Carmel notifies State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy and State of Ohio Board of Nursing … READ MORE.