An Ohio doctor who is facing 25 murder charges for allegedly using fentanyl to kill critically-ill patients filed a civil lawsuit against his former employers on Thursday.
Dr. William Husel, 44, is seeking at least $50,000 from the Mount Carmel Health System, its parent organization, Trinity Health Corporation, and its former CEO. The doctor, who was hired in 2013 as a critical care physician, has claimed the deceased patients succumbed from their respective illnesses and not from the powerful painkillers that he allegedly ordered to be used before their deaths.
The Columbus Dispatch reported that Dr. Husel is suing for defamation and breach of contract, stating in his lawsuit that “fallout from those false accusations has been profound.” He alleged that hospital officials routinely issued press releases in which they claimed he prescribed fatal doses of painkillers to patients after their families decided to remove them from full-life support.
Dr. Husel was hired as a critical care physician at Mount Carmel in 2013 and reportedly received a doctor of the year award in 2014. He has accused his former employer of failing to provide formal training on hospital protocol.
Mount Carmel terminated Dr. Hussel last December. The following month, officials confirmed his firing was due to his “excessive and potentially fatal” use of painkillers on patients who ultimately died, according to WOSU.
The suit stated that hospital executives’ public comments are in “conflict with all eye-witness accounts, all scientific evidence, and all scientific and medical literature.”
Dr. Husel has pleaded not guilty to 25 counts of murder, maintaining that his use of fentanyl was appropriate in end-of-life care. He stated in his lawsuit that he began administering painkillers to patients after they were removed from their breathing tube and life support. He claimed he increased the dose after seeing multiple patients in discomfort as they died.
Investigators asserted that Dr. Husel’s increase in doses over time establishes escalation and intent. However, the doctor’s lawsuit stated that he was learning what doses were optimal for his dying patients, according to WOSU.
The Dispatch reported that Mount Carmel fired 23 employees following their internal investigation of incidents connected to Dr. Husel, who is the only person facing criminal charges. His lawsuit comes days after 10 former employees sued the hospital for allegedly defaming them and the ex-critical care physician.
Dr. Husel and Mount Carmel are facing more than 30 wrongful-death lawsuits filed by relatives of deceased patients who were admitted into the hospital’s intensive care unit. Their attorneys charged that Dr. Husel hurried their decisions to end life-maintaining care for their family members.
WOSU reported that the hospital has settled several of those lawsuits, costing them a total of $13.5 million.
Dr. Husel is scheduled to stand trial in June 2020. In addition to prison, he is also facing the loss of his medical license.
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[Featured image: William Husel/Franklin County Sheriff’s Office]