This article is mirrored here for historical purposes from

Ohio hospital fires doctor accused of giving potentially lethal doses of fentanyl to 27 intensive care patients as lawsuit claims he killed 79-year-old woman with medication

  • William Husel accused of ordering deadly doses of drug for near-death patients
  • He's been sacked from Mount Carmel West Hospital along with 20 employees
  • Lawsuit claims he hastened death of Janet Kavanaugh by giving her fentanyl

An Ohio doctor is under investigation for allegedly giving 'excessive and potentially fatal' doses of fentanyl to at least 27 intensive care patients. 

William Husel has been accused of ordering lethal amounts of the drug for patients at Mount Carmel West Hospital in Columbus.  

Mount Carmel has fired Husel, notified authorities and suspended 20 employees - including pharmacists and nurses who administered medication - pending further investigation. 


The announcement came after a family sued the hospital, alleging medicine was used to hasten 79-year-old Janet Kavanaugh's death. 

The lawsuit was filed Monday against the health system, a pharmacist, a nurse and the doctor. 

The attorney who brought the lawsuit said, in that case, either layers of safeguards repeatedly failed to flag a 'grossly excessive' dosage of fentanyl, or the medical professionals intended to accelerate the death of Kavanaugh in late 2017.

'On balance, it's hard to believe the former occurred rather than the latter. ... This is not just a simple situation of an error,' lawyer Gerry Leeseberg said Tuesday.

Fentanyl is a powerful opioid pain medication nearly 100 times stronger than morphine. 

Kavanaugh was given 1,000 micrograms of Fentanyl through an IV, causing her to die in 18 minutes, the lawsuit claims. 

Mount Carmel shared no information about what might have prompted employees to approve and administer the excessive dosages.

'Regardless of the reason the actions were taken, we take responsibility for the fact that the processes in place were not sufficient to prevent these actions from happening,' Mount Carmel President and CEO Ed Lamb said in a video statement.

'We're doing everything to understand how this happened and what we need to do to ensure that it never happens again.'

Case records list no attorney to comment on Husel's behalf. There is no public personal phone listing for him. 

Husel's case emerges amid a national debate over physician-assisted death. In such cases, physicians prescribe medications in life-ending amounts to terminally ill patients.

Five states - California, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and Colorado - allow the practice, and 20 have considered but not passed legislation to do so, according to the nonpartisan National Conference of State Legislatures. 

A Montana court also legalized it there, though there's no regulatory framework in place. In Ohio, the practice remains illegal. 

A bill that would have allowed terminally ill, mentally competent patients to self-administer a prescription to end their lives failed to gain traction in the last legislative session.

But Joe Carrese, a faculty member at the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics, said that such laws are carefully crafted. 

He said that if Husel administered lethal quantities of drugs to unwitting patients in order to end their lives, his acts didn't meet the definition of physician-assisted death.

'In this case, if that was the intent, this was essentially euthanasia, which is not legal anywhere in the United States and not at all the same as physician-assisted death,' he said.

Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien confirmed that his office has met with doctors, hospital executives and attorneys and that an investigation is underway. 

He said they've received cooperation from Mount Carmel, which operates four hospitals around Columbus, and from parent organization Trinity Health, one of the country's largest Roman Catholic health care systems.