The trial of Dr. William Husel is being livestreamed each day on NBC4i.com and the NBC4 app. 4:52 p.m. update: Proceedings have ended for the day and are expected to resume Thursday at 9 a.m. Dr. Dan Roth, chief clinical officer of Trinity Health (Mount Carmel’s parent organization), is expected to continue testifying Thursday morning.
Following Tuesday’s proceedings that featured testimony from some of Husel’s former colleagues, former Mount Carmel West Vice President Dr. Larry Swanner and Dr. Dan Roth, chief clinical officer of Trinity Health, took the stand Wednesday to discuss steps that the hospital took following concerns over Husel’s medication orders.
Husel, 46, is facing murder charges in the deaths of 14 ICU patients who were under his care at the former Mount Carmel West hospital from 2015 to 2018. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Swanner, who has a background in pharmacy and as a family medicine physician, said in his role as vice president, he served as a liaison between medical staff and hospital administration. He also stated that he assisted in the hiring process of Husel at Mount Carmel West in 2014.
Swanner was questioned by the prosecution about conversations he had with Kathryn (Katie) Barga, patient safety risk management nurse at Mount Carmel, who testified last week about complaints she reviewed about doses of fentanyl Husel gave a patient.
“I decided to start an investigation myself into these cases. I had looked at the voice complaints regarding them. I also looked into the patient records and discovered high doses of fentanyl and versed, much higher than I had personally seen used previously,” Swanner said. “I was quite alarmed by that.”
After being informed of concerns surrounding Husel’s care of patients, Swanner said he called Husel and placed him on administrative leave while they investigated the complaints.
Swanner said he was terminated from the hospital in July 2019.
In the afternoon, Husel’s defense attorney Jose Baez questioned Swanner about the hospital’s investigation and his termination. Swanner told Baez that he was never given a reason as to why he was fired.
“And you blame Dr. Husel for being forced into retirement, don’t you sir?” Baez asked.
“I blame several factors: being terminated, COVID, my age, I think what occurred around Dr. Husel and his behavior also contributed to that,” Swanner replied.
After redirect questioning from the prosecution, Swanner finished testifying Wednesday afternoon.
Next to testify was Dr. Dan Roth, the chief clinical officer of Trinity Health, who oversees issues of patient care at Mount Carmel West.
Roth testified about the steps that he and other top executives at the hospital took following concerns about Husel’s medication orders, including working with law enforcement agencies and informing the family members of about 27 patients who died under Husel’s care.
“We have a responsibility to talk to family members or patients when care doesn’t go the way it was intended to go,” Roth said. “That is why we felt the need to tell family members of what we had learned.”
John “Sean” O’Connell, the former director of pharmacy of Mount Carmel West, was the first to testify.
Prosecutors questioned O’Connell about his role at the pharmacy and how he handled concerns regarding fentanyl doses ordered by Husel. O’Connell also reiterated that pharmacists do not diagnose disease nor order drugs in a hospital setting.
O’Connell, whose tenure at Mount Carmel West extended more than 40 years, testified that he felt as though he was treated unfairly by the hospital. He was terminated from the hospital in 2019.
Dr. Gina Moody, a pulmonary and critical care physician at Mount Carmel, testified about her time in the ICU in 2013, where she largely managed the health of patients. She was questioned and described the extubation process as well as Do-Not-Resuscitate Comfort Care (DNR) requests by patients in ICUs.
Dr. Deborah Woidtke, a hospitalist specializing in internal medicine contracted by Mount Carmel through Columbus Inpatient Care, testified about the medical chart of two of Husel’s alleged murder victims: 75-year-old Rebecca Walls and 82-year-old Melissa Penix, both of whom were under her care as well.
Here are some of the individuals who may appear during the proceedings:
- Michael Holbrook
- Dr. William Husel
- Jose Baez
- Jaime Lapidus
- Diane Menashe
- Corinne Buker
- Paula Sawyers
- Taylor Mick
- David Zeyen
- Janet Grubb
- Powell Miller