Pharmacists Among Those Fired in Hospital Fentanyl Deaths Case

July 12, 2019

25 murder charges against one physician leads to multiple firings at Ohio hospital.

Mount Carmel West Hospital in Columbus, OH, has fired 23 employees in the aftermath of murder charges against one of its acute care physicians. Pharmacists are among those affected, according to the AP.

William Husel, DO, is charged with 25 counts of murder due to overdoses of fentanyl. The deaths took place over the course of four years and affected critical care patients at the hospital. Husel is pleading not guilty and was fired from the hospital in December.

A pharmacist was the person who alerted hospital authorities to the high doses of fentanyl being prescribed by Husel, according to the New York Times. Mount Carmel West began an internal inquiry and found 35 cases handled by Husel that it deemed suspicious. 

According to the Columbus Dispatch, 48 pharmacists and nurses were reported to state licensing boards, including 30 who are still with the health system. The Ohio Board of Nursing has issued notices to 25 nurses saying that they could lose their licenses for their roles in the Husel case. The Ohio Board of Pharmacy has taken no public action. 

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Ron O’Brien, the Franklin County prosecutor, focused on cases where doses of 500 to 2,000 micrograms of fentanyl were administered, amounts could have caused or hastened patient deaths and which are larger than doses typically used for post-surgical patients. Dozens of nurses, pharmacists and managers were put on administrative leave and either left their jobs or were in this firing. 

In addition to the 23 people fired from Mount Carmel West, which is part of the Michigan-based Trinity Health, one remains on administrative leave, and 11 others will be given a change to return to work after completing further training and education. 

 

Husel has a previous history of criminal behavior. In 1996, he pleaded guilty to improperly storing a destructive device or pipe bomb at a college in West Virginia, and he attempted to incriminate someone else for the crime. He was sentenced to six months in jail and one year of supervised release. Despite this, he was admitted to and graduated from Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine and did a residency and fellowship at the Cleveland Clinic Hospital. The Cleveland Clinic has conducted an audit of his time there, and says that is did not find conduct similar to what he is accused of doing at Mount Carmel West.