Judge: Hospital need not fund doc's defense in murder case
Columbus, Ohio — A Michigan-based health system and its insurer don’t have to cover the costs of an Ohio doctor’s defense against murder charges in the deaths of 25 hospital patients, a federal judge ruled.
William Husel is accused of ordering excessive painkillers for patients in the Columbus-area Mount Carmel Health System. Husel, 44, has pleaded not guilty and maintains he was caring for dying patients, not trying to kill them.
Mount Carmel's parent company, Livonia-based Trinity Health Corporation, and the insurer argued the liability policy at issue in Husel’s lawsuit against them doesn’t cover criminal defense expenses. U.S. District Judge George Caram Steeh agreed and dismissed the case Tuesday.
Husel contends his ability to defend himself is hurt if the businesses don’t cover the defense costs in the criminal case as they did for dozens of related civil cases filed by patients’ families.
A lawyer for Husel said they intend to appeal. In an email, attorney Adam Ford of Ford O’Brien LLP said they remain “shocked at Mount Carmel’s and Trinity Health’s continuing refusal to fully support their doctor who they know for a fact was providing proper comfort end-of-life care to each of his patients.”
Mount Carmel and Trinity Health have stood by their internal findings that Husel ordered “significantly excessive and potentially fatal” doses of pain medicine for more than two dozen near-death patients over several years.
Other colleagues who administered or approved the drugs have been fired or referred for potential disciplinary action by their professional boards. Only the fired doctor was charged, and only in cases involving at least 500 micrograms of fentanyl.