William Husel was the doctor accused of administering vast doses of fentanyl to patients without their consent, killing 14 people, and was suspected of administering lethal doses to as many as 20 others.
The defense didn’t try to say that Husel ordered the administration of high doses of fentanyl to patients. His lawyer said that these people were nearing the end of their lives, so Huser provided comfort care.
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Jose Baez is the defense lawyer that presents Huser, and he redirected the jury to Husel’s intentions.
Husel didn’t kill those people by prescribing large doses of fentanyl, but he wanted to relieve patients’ pains.
Prematurely ending a patient’s life is illegal in Ohio, so a doctor may administer 50-100 micrograms of fentanyl.
But, Husel gave 600-2000 micrograms, so most of the patients who expired under his care within their twilight years, but there were people who were in their 30s.
The defense called upon expert witnesses who stated the doses were “mind-boggling and astounding.” With 53 witnesses on the stand, one of them said that Husel was the only doctor to administer doses of fentanyl above 500 micrograms, and the prosecution rested their case.
Baez countered their arguments and explained to the jury that there weren’t legal limits that barred Husel from administering any dose of fentanyl.
The jury decided to acquit Husel of all charges. They determined that the letter of the law doesn’t provide a means to convict him of murder. And Baez was right; besides the universally known dangers of fentanyl, there isn’t a legal definition of a lethal amount of fentanyl for its administration.
Husel has previously been in conflict with the law when he was a college student. He built and detonated a pipe bomb in a trash can. Later he planted evidence in another student’s car but got caught. The doctor was charged with malicious damage by” means of an explosive device, possession of an unregistered explosive device, and unlawful making of an explosive device.”
He got a half a year sentence, but he still could attend medical school after that.
Baez had his doubts. At the beginning of the proceedings, the defense and prosecution shared they would discuss a possible plea deal.
Baez said It was a fair offer from the prosecution, “an extremely reasonable starting point.” If he had agreed to that deal, Husel would have been charged with manslaughter for every patient. That’s a minimum of 30 years in prison.
.@BurgartBioethix and @DrJLozada express shock that Dr. William Husel ever became a physician. "We must demand even more rigorous screening before medical school entry, especially for applicants with serious ethical violations in their pasts." https://t.co/AlhiTq6RSH
— Stanford Anesthesiology (@stanfordanes) June 12, 2019
Many have been outspoken and opposed to the verdict:
The intensivist on that night wanted to leave right when their shift ended at midnight. They got pissed the patient was taking too long to die and tried to demand in front of the family that I open the pain pump and push the entire syringe. I refused. They made an ass out of themselves. I took them into the hall and told them under no circumstances would I do what they were asking and they were welcome to call in management if they had a problem with it. They stormed off and I reported the interaction the next day. That intensivist did not last long at that institution.
I would just like to add that this whole situation detailed above is something that has haunted me for many years. I always wondered if there were others who didn’t refuse given the hostility directed at me that night. I also felt sick that the family had that as their last experience surrounding their loved one. The memories became even more haunting when this story broke.
"I would never give over even 300 micrograms in a single dose for fear of killing them," said Dr. Wes Ely.
More big moments – and the defense cross – from the start of week 2 testimony in the William Husel trial:https://t.co/9hSQ1YMr6G
— Haley Nelson (@HaleyWSYX6) March 1, 2022
One anesthesiologist stated that “giving 40 cc of fentnyl to a patient can actually cause their chest muscles to stiffen, causing even more anxiety prior to their death.”
One nurse said, “the whole thing is outside the boundaries of anything remotely consistent with good patient care or good medicine.”
Reddit added: I was orienting to a new floor, and we had a comfort care patient that was on a morphine drip with orders to “double dose q1 hour until patient expires.” My preceptor and I felt that was a sketchy order. Bordering on euthanasia, and we refused to do it. We had the doctor rewrite the order to “titrate for comfort” or something like that with clear reasons to increase the dose.