A Brazilian doctor is being investigated amid fears she may have killed up to 300 patients in what could be one of the world’s worst serial killings.
Virginia Soares de Souza is being investigated on suspicion of intentionally killing some 300 patients to free up hospital beds at the Hospital Evangelico in Curitiba, south Brazil.
Many of the patients died prematurely, with many conscious and talking moments before they died.
De Souza is being held for her alleged involvement in the deaths of seven patients in intensive care.
Three other doctors and a nurse have been arrested on suspicion of collaboration.
It is understood her motive for killing was to free up hospital beds.
She is accused of having administered “fatal doses of a muscle relaxant or cutting off patients’ life support” in the separate cases.
She is charged with cutting oxygen levels patients were receiving below the minimum required for survival. One patient lost their life after their oxygen levels were cut from 45% to 21%. The same patient was also given Pavulon, a muscle relaxant, before he died.
Investigators noticed the same pattern in several other deaths.
Leading the hosptial investigation, Dr Mario Lobato said De Souza had ‘played God’ in deciding which of the patients should die in order to free up beds in the hospital.
“There are 20 cases which have already been closed, and we have nearly 300 cases still open which we are looking at.
“In each case, the testimony of people who worked inside the hospital confirmed what we have found on the patient records.”
Lobato said: “All of them have the same modus operandi, the same relationship between the drug and death, and the same time between both.”
Lobato said some of the patients had been talking only minutes before being found dead by staff.
He said: “One was awake, being nebulised but not even connected to a respirator.
“This patient had asked his family to bring his glasses so he could do some reading while he was in the intensive care ward. Another patient had just asked a nurse for a cup of water. This nurse testified that one of the things she will never forget is that she didn’t manage to give him the cup of water because by the time she returned he had already died.”
If De Souza is found guilty of killing 300 patients she would have become the world’s worst serial. English GP Harold Shipman reportedly killed between 215 and 260 people before he was convicted in 2000 of killing 15 patients while working in Hyde, Greater Manchester. Shipman hanged himself in 2004.
De Souza’s lawyer Elias Mattar Assad said his client was innocent.
Assad said: “Soon we will be able to prove that what happened in that ward can be justified in medical writings.”
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