An Ohio doctor was charged Wednesday with 25 counts of murder for allegedly overprescribing potent doses of painkillers, authorities said.
William Husel surrendered to Columbus police following a six-month investigation that concluded he intentionally caused the deaths of patients by ordering excessive doses of the opioid fentanyl, police said.
Husel overprescribed the extremely powerful opioid for hospital patients in the Mount Carmel health system where he worked, officials said.
A Franklin County grand jury indicted Husel Wednesday morning. The charges cover a four-year period ending in December.
According to the charges, Husel prescribed at least 500 micrograms of fentanyl for the 25 patients, levels that were potentially lethal. "At the 500-microgram level there would be no legitimate medical purpose," said Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien, according to the Columbus Dispatch. "The only purpose would be to hasten their deaths."
Many of the patients were seriously ill, officials said. But a motive is unclear, they added.
Husel's attorney said his client did not intend to kill patients. Husel pleaded not guilty to all charges. Bail was set at $1 million.
Husel was fired in December and stripped of his medical license. More than two dozen wrongful deaths suits have been filed against the health care system and Husel. Mount Carmel has apologized publicly and has settled some of the civil cases.