Ohio physician allegedly ordered 28 people potentially fatal doses of opioid painkillers. Their families wonder why he wasn’t stopped.

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By Erik Ortiz

Christine Allison and her husband, Troy, were watching television in their Columbus, Ohio, home last July when his breathing became erratic. She dialed paramedics and fetched her husband a paper bag to calm him while they waited.

“I’ll see you in a minute,” she said in those frantic moments when the ambulance arrived. “I’m on my way.”

About three hours later, Troy Allison would be dead at the age of 44.

Troy Allison and his wife, Christine Allison.

What happened at Mount Carmel West hospital in that time still baffles Christine Allison. She said her husband, an excavator, had been diagnosed with diabetes after suffering a broken hip from a dump truck accident three years ago — but was not in such declining health that he should have died so suddenly.

Christine Allison, 53, would later learn that he received a 1,000 microgram dose of fentanyl, which is used in hospitals to treat severe pain, although typically in much smaller amounts.

Troy Allison’s death and at least 33 others involving Mount Carmel patients from 2015 to 2018 remain part of a wider internal investigation into Dr. William Husel, who treated them, and why the intensive care doctor allegedly ordered “significantly excessive and potentially fatal” doses of pain medication in 28 of the cases, according to the hospital.

Husel’s medical license was suspended Friday by the State Medical Board of Ohio, which said the allegations against him were so serious that he was not afforded a hearing prior to the board’s vote and can no longer practice medicine in the state.

Yet, key questions remain unanswered: Why such high doses, and were they the result of repeated mistakes — or intentionally meant to be deadly?

Doctors, pharmacists and lawyers who spoke with NBC News say hospitals such as Mount Carmel, one of the largest health systems in Ohio, have multiple safeguards in place that should prevent patients from being overmedicated to death. There are checks and balances allowing those in the chain of command to trigger an alarm, the medical experts added, so that an error can be avoided or reviewed after the fact, including during emergency situations in which dangerous drugs such as fentanyl are used.