KUALA LUMPUR, June 7 — A doctor from Ohio, US, was charged with killing 25 critical-care patients in Columbus over four years by prescribing them fatal doses of painkiller fentanyl.
The New York Times reported a lawyer for Dr William Husel, 43, as saying that his client had tried to comfort dying people, not to kill them.
“I can assure you there was never any attempt to euthanise anyone by Dr Husel,” lawyer Richard Blake was quoted saying Wednesday when his client surrendered to the police.
Dr Husel, who had worked for the Mount Carmel Health System since 2013, was reportedly terminated last December.
A criminal investigation was launched after Mount Carmel’s internal inquiry found 35 suspicious cases handled by Dr Husel.
Mount Carmel’s inquiry reportedly found that while most of the 25 patients Dr Husel allegedly killed would have died in any case, five could have lived if they received proper treatment.
Fentanyl is 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine; very small doses of the opioid can be fatal.
Dr Husel was accused of killing people who were unconscious or critically ill and who may not have known what he was doing.
According to Franklin County prosecutor Ron O’Brien, investigators focused on cases where Dr Husel gave doses of 500 to 2,000 micrograms of fentanyl to patients that allegedly caused or quickened their deaths.
Those amounts are purportedly much bigger than what hospitals usually administer to surgical patients.
Dr Lewis S. Nelson, a professor of emergency medicine at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School and an expert on opioid prescriptions, was quoted saying that 500 or 2,000 micrograms of fentanyl “would generally prove consequential and most likely lethal” to most patients.