Physician accused of killing patients now suing hospital for defamation

A physician accused of killing patients by overprescribing opioids is now suing Mount Carmel Health System for defamation. William Husel, DO, claims that patients died from their illnesses, not the medication, and that he did not deviate from the hospital’s end-of-life care policy. Husel has previously said he was trying to provide comfort to dying patients who had stopped undergoing live-saving measures.

On June 25, 2019, Husel was indicted on 25 counts of murder for allegedly ordering “significantly excessive and potentially fatal” doses of fentanyl for patients who were near death. At the time, Husel was a critical care physician at Mount Carmel in Columbus, Ohio. The health system also fired 23 employees (including nursing and pharmacy staff) who carried out Husel’s prescription orders.

Husel is seeking $50,000 in damages plus attorney fees. His lawsuit states he is the victim of “perhaps the most egregious case of defamation in Ohio’s recent history.”

Some of Husel’s former colleagues are also defending him. In December, 10 of the previously mentioned terminated employees filed their own lawsuit against Mount Carmel, claiming that Husel was defamed and wrongfully terminated. The colleagues claim Husel prescribed “high but appropriate” doses of fentanyl that complied with the hospital’s “flexible and discretion-permitting policies.” They say the health system overreacted out of fear of public and regulators’ opinions on the issue.

Responding to the lawsuits, Mount Carmel said these claims are unfounded. “We completed an extensive review of patient care provided by Dr. William Husel and stand by our decisions.”