Trial begins for doctor accused of excessive ordering of pain medications that resulted in deaths
The trial for a former doctor who has been accused of prescribing excessive pain medications resulting in the deaths of his patients began this week in Ohio.
William Husel is facing 14 counts of murder for allegedly aiding the deaths of patients in the Mount Carmel Health intensive care unit, according to The Columbus Dispatch.
Assistant Franklin County Prosecutor Janet Grubb told the jury during opening arguments on Tuesday that Husel prescribed “unwarranted and unprecedented” doses of fentanyl to some patients. She added that in some cases the fentanyl was combined with benzodiazepines and that the excessive dosage of the drugs led to patient deaths that could have been avoided, the news outlet reported.
“Many were not in a position to feel discomfort, pain or agitation. Nonetheless, they were given large doses,” Grubb reportedly said.
“In each instance, the defendant ordered the lethal doses of medication. William Husel’s actions caused the deaths of these patients,” she said, adding that though nurses and pharmacists were involved in the patients’ care as well, Husel was responsible because he prescribed the medication, The Dispatch reported.
Jose Baez, Husel’s lead defense attorney, rebutted Grubb’s accusations, claiming that the prosecution had multiple holes in its case.
“This is not a murder case and it’s far from it,” Baez reportedly said. “William Husel was exercising compassion to his patients and trying to free them from pain and let their last moments on Earth be ones of peace because that’s what his patients would have wanted and that’s exactly what his patients’ families wanted.”
He also argued that blame should be placed on other health care providers who worked with Husel to fulfill the prescriptions.
“It’s a fifty-fifty responsibility between the pharmacist and the doctor,” Baez said, according to the Dispatch. “There are no pharmacists on trial here, and yet they’re 50 percent responsible for every dose that’s given.”
Columbus police detective Bill Gillette was called as the first witness in the trial, which is reportedly expected to see at least 50 witnesses and span nearly two months.