(Reuters) – An Ohio doctor was charged with 25 counts of murder for administering high and sometimes fatal doses of opioid painkillers to dozens of very sick patients, prosecutors said on Wednesday.
The doctor, William Husel, turned himself in to Columbus police following a six-month-long investigation into what Mount Carmel Hospital called his administration of “inappropriate” doses of fentanyl to patients, Franklin County prosecutor Ron O’Brien said at a news conference.
He became the latest in a wave of U.S. doctors charged for their role in a public health crisis that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said led to a record 47,600 opioid-related overdose deaths in 2017.
If convicted, Husel faces 15 years to life in prison for each count.
“By giving fentanyl at these levels, we were comfortable with the information we had that it was a sufficient amount that the only rational purpose could be to shorten a person’s life,” O’Brien said.
Fentanyl, often given for intense pain associated with cancer, is 100 times more powerful than morphine.
Husel’s attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The murders Husel is charged with committing spanned from February 2015 to November 2018, according to the court docket. O’Brien said Mount Carmel Hospital suspects Husel in 35 patient deaths.
(Reporting by Gabriella Borter in New York; Editing by Scott Malone and Bill Berkrot)