June 10, 2019
Early in June 2019, William Husel, an ex-doctor at Mount Carmel Health, Columbus, was charged with 25 counts of murder of hospital patients with deliberate painkiller overdoses. One could not, in their wildest dreams, imagine that this 43-year-old, kind faced doctor would turn out to be the “ripper” in uniform.
Husel has been charged with killing 25 people by prescribing them high doses of fentanyl, which proved to be fatal. Fentanyl is a powerful synthetic opioid, known to be 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. Small doses of the opioid are used for pain relief in cancer patients. However, owing to the euphoria-creating effects of the drug, it is also used recreationally by mixing it with heroin. Unfortunately, even an amount equivalent to a few grains of salt can lead to a fatal overdose.
Even though Husel turned himself in to the local authorities, he pleaded not guilty to the murder charges, spanning four years from 2015 to 2018. His attorney argued that Husel neither performed any mercy killings nor did he have any intentions to kill anyone. The Court has set his bond at $1 million. There were no charges pressed against the pharmacists, nurses, and other hospital staff, nonetheless, they have been asked to report to various professional boards for investigation and disciplinary actions.
Violating doctor’s oath unacceptable
While addressing a press conference in regard to one of the biggest criminal charges against an American health care professional, Police Chief Tom Quinlan said that doctors take the Hippocratic Oath to protect lives and such a violation was unacceptable. He further added that pressing of charges was the first step towards taking action against Husel and holding him criminally accountable for the deaths.
Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien added that the focus was on cases in which more than 500 micro grams or more of fentanyl was prescribed. According to experts, dosage of such high levels of the painkiller did not support any logical medicinal purpose and instead was a sure shot way to kill someone.
Local authorities received information about suspicious conduct
Speaking about the case, Police Chief Quinlan said that during December 2018, detectives at the local authority had received information regarding several “deaths” of patients under Dr. Husel’s care at Mount Carmel Health. A lawyer for the hospital reached out to the local authorities after a hospital staff alerted the establishment about the doctor’s conduct.
After a thorough scrutiny of the documents amounting to nearly 35,000 pages and several interviews with hospital staff, professionals, family members of the deceased, and witnesses, the authorities started their investigation regarding the deaths of around 35 patients. The investigation found that nothing could have saved 25 of these patients from dying. However, five of these could have been saved with appropriate treatment.
Mount Carmel Health promises complete cooperation
If convicted, each murder charge carries a sentence of minimum 15 years of life imprisonment. Even the hospital faces several lawsuits. Issuing a public apology, the hospital said that it was committed to ensure justice in the case and would appreciate the public prosecutor’s efforts and leadership. The hospital also stated that it had taken the initiative of alerting all the appropriate authorities regarding the doctor’s suspicious conduct; and that they were fully committed to cooperating with the authorities in the future also.
The hospital went on to add that Mount Carmel held the safety of the patients as their utmost priority and providing sympathetic care to patients and their families was its most sacred duty. It prayed for the victims and their families affected by the tragedy.
When asked for more information regarding the details of the case, the hospital authorities said that they were under legal obligations to not give out specifications of the case as the criminal investigation was still under way. It further added that details were available on the hospital’s official website.
According to the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) report, 245,000 Americans misused fentanyl in 2017. This estimate does not include people who misused the opioid unknowingly, as a lot of heroin users are unaware of fentanyl being mixed in their drugs. Addiction to fentanyl and other opioids not only causes physical problems but also leads to the development of various psychological and mental health disorders. It is important to stop the threat as early as possible.
Opioid addiction requires medically supervised detox treatment to flush out the toxins from the body, manage the withdrawal symptoms, and prepare the body for the ensuing treatment. A detox treatment is usually followed by counselling sessions and alternate therapies. Therapy helps in identifying triggers and learning coping skills to lead a drug-free life after treatment.
If you or a loved one is battling an addiction to fentanyl or any other opioids and is looking for a licensed drug treatment center, then get in touch with the Invictus Health Group. We can connect you with credible drug rehabs offering customized treatment plans ensuring lasting recovery. Call our 24/7 drug addiction treatment helpline 866-548-0190 and speak to a member of our team for more information about our network facilities. You can also chat online to a representative for further assistance.