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The former Mount Carmel anesthesiologist faces 14 counts of murder after prosecutors say he ordered excessive doses of painkillers that hastened the deaths of patients.

Second pharmacist testifies in third day of William Husel murder trial

Fentanyl vials as part of the prosecution's visual aid in the William Husel murder trial.
Matthew Rand
Fentanyl vials were presented as part of the prosecution's visual aid in the William Husel murder trial.

Testimony continued Thursday in the murder trial of former Mount Carmel doctor William Husel.

Much of the day's proceedings revolved around a second pharmacist who worked at Mount Carmel West when Husel prescribed painkiller doses that prosecutors say killed patients.

Pharmacist Gregory Dresbach told prosecutors he too thought it was a clerical error the first time he saw a 1,000 microgram fentanyl dose ordered by Husel.

Gregory Dresbach on the stand during the William Husel murder trial.
Matthew Rand
Gregory Dresbach on the stand in court.

"Even beyond that, I was concerned about the fact that people were overriding at one time, such high doses. And then on top of it, one person was removing them and another person was apparently giving them," Dresbach said.

When he inquired about such a dose for one patient, he said he received no explanation and so he rejected the order. The drug was given anyway.

On cross-examination, defense attorney Diane Menashe honed in on the case of James Timmons, whom Husel gave a 2,000 microgram fentanyl dose, and whom medical records show received a much higher dose of over 14,000 micrograms from a different physician during surgery the day prior.

"One of the things when you're reviewing orders to determine their appropriateness is tolerance, is it not?" Menashe asked.

"It is," Dresbach replied.

Husel's defense team also pointed to hospital policy that states doses can exceed I-V guidelines in certain circumstances, including palliative care.

Matthew Rand is the Morning Edition host for 89.7 NPR News. Rand served as an interim producer during the pandemic for WOSU’s All Sides daily talk show.