Thursday, March 28, 2013

Doctor Kills Patients to Free Up Hospital Beds

A Brazilian doctor charged with killing seven patients at a hospital could be responsible for up to 300 deaths. According to prosecutors, Virginia Helena Soares de Souza and her medical team help administer lethal doses of anesthetics, sedatives, painkillers and reduced their oxygen supply, causing them to die of asphyxiation.
The doctor and her seven assistants were suspected of injecting patients with "drug cocktails" and of tampering with their respirators, a health ministry official said.[...]Prosecutors said De Souza's taped phone conversations revealed her motive was to free up beds for other patients at an intensive care unit, which she headed up. "I want to clear the intensive care unit. It's making me itch," she allegedly said in one recording released to Brazilian media. "Unfortunately, our mission is to be go-betweens on the springboard to the next life," she reportedly added in the same phone call. Prosecutors said De Souza felt "all powerful" running the unit, to the point where she "had the power to decree the moment when a victim would die". In some cases, she was absent from the hospital and gave instructions to end the life of a patient by phone to members of her medical team, it was alleged. The 56-year-old widow was arrested last month and charged with seven counts of aggravated first degree murder. She was released on bail a week ago pending the outcome of the investigation. Three other doctors, three nurses and a physiotherapist who worked for her have also been charged with murder. More cases are expected to emerge as investigators look through 1,700 medical records of patients who died in the last seven years at the Evangelical Hospital in the southern city of Curitiba. "We already have more than 20 cases established, and there are nearly 300 more that we are looking into," the chief investigator assigned by Brazil's health ministry, Dr Mario Lobato, told Globo TV. He said the deaths he reviewed happened under similar circumstances: a muscle relaxant such as Pancuronium was administered, increasing the patients' dependence on artificial respiration; then the oxygen supply was reduced, causing death by asphyxiation. Some of the patients were conscious moments before they died, he said. De Souza's lawyer, Elias Mattar Assad, said investigators had misunderstood how an intensive care unit works and she would prove her innocence.

source: Sky News
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