Law professor: Many factors may be affecting length of Husel investigation

Local News

Thursday marked one month since Mount Carmel Health System leaders first publicly acknowledged that Dr. William Husel had been fired for allegedly ordering excessive and potentially fatal doses of pain medicine for dozens of patients.

Since then, 16 wrongful death lawsuits have been filed against Mount Carmel, Husel and others.

Hospital leaders now say at least 34 patients were impacted by Husel’s actions, which also resulted in 23 employees being placed on leave.

So far, however, no criminal charges have been filed.

Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien said his office is working on this case every day, while few details of the criminal investigation have emerged.

NBC4 contacted Ric Simmons, a professor of law at The Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law, to discuss the investigation.

Simmons is not working with police or the prosecutor’s office, but he once served as a prosecutor in New York City.

He said he believes three factors are playing a role in why the criminal investigation remains ongoing.

“The first is the question of causation,” he explained. “They have to prove that in fact it was the fentanyl that the doctors and nurses administered that actually caused these deaths.”

Simmons also said the number of people potentially under investigation is so large, it may be slowing the process. Additionally, he said some of those individuals may be both potential defendants and witnesses.

“If you have maybe two dozen people who might get charged, the prosecutor has to decide which of these they essentially flip and use as witnesses against the others, and what kind of deal to give the people who are going to be helping out and so on,” Simmons said.

O’Brien has not offered a timeline on when the criminal investigation may be complete. 

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