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Intensive care doctor testifies in Dr. William Husel's murder trial

Dr. John Schweiger, an intensive care doctor in Florida, said a 1,000 microgram dose of fentanyl contributed to a patient's death.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — An intensive care expert from Florida took the stand to testify in the murder trial of former Mount Carmel physician Dr. William Husel.

Dr. William Husel, a former overnight physician at the hospital, is accused of ordering fatal doses of fentanyl to be given to 14 patients under his care.  

Dr. John Schweiger, an expert in critical care and anesthesia from Tampa, was asked about the fentanyl doses Husel ordered for his patients.

Husel is accused of hastening the deaths of 14 patients by ordering an excessive amount of fentanyl. The defense argues he was providing comfort care to patients in their final moments.

Dr. Schweiger was specifically asked about one of the patients, 69-year-old Joanne Bellisari. She was in the hospital for two weeks in 2015 before she was removed from life support.

Schweiger testified he would have given Bellisari 100 micrograms of fentanyl. Husel is accused of giving her 10 times that amount.

"In my professional opinion, within a reasonable medical certainty, the decision to administer 1,000 micrograms of fentanyl, which I believe was received at 11:32 p.m. did cause and or contribute to the hastening of Bellisari's death," Schweiger said.

Bellisari died eight minutes after receiving the dose of fentanyl.

Schweiger was also asked about another patient who died under Husel's care. Ryan Hayes was admitted in 2017 after suffering cardiac arrest.

Husel ordered 2,000 micrograms for Hayes along with other medications. The prosecution asked whether that amount of fentanyl was justifiable. 

"No. Given Hayes' presentation to the hospital, his lack of neurological improvement during the two-plus days he was at Mount Carmel West, there would be no justifiable medical indication to give these medications of these particularly elevated doses," Schweiger said.

Dr. Schweiger is expected to continue his testimony on Wednesday.

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