9/12/2014 – If the FBI ever confiscates my computer, I would have a lot of explaining to do. Would they believe that I have a ton of poison sites in my history cache because I’m doing research? What would they think about the sites I’ve visited on explosives and guns?
I also belong to the Chesapeake Chapter of Sisters in Crime. Its members have similar unnatural interests. That’s because we write and read mysteries. We want to know about undetectable poisons and gun calibers. We want to know what makes a killer kill. We writers need that information to be realistic and plausible. This brings me to the guest speaker at last week’s chapter meeting. Dr. Eindra Khin Khin, forensic psychiatrist, unsettled us all with the latest on serial killers in the health care
professions. These are the doctors, nurses, and others who fill the morgues as they move from hospital to hospital. According to the statistics, Dr. Khin says, 25 percent of these serial killers are doctors and 45 percent, nurses. Motives vary. Some are psychotic or mentally ill; some want to rid the world of the immoral such as prostitutes; some are control freaks or thrill seekers; some simply want to lighten their workload or clear the ICU for new patients. Some find a way to be mentioned in the will.
While Jeffrey Dahmer murdered 17 young men and Ted Bundy confessed to murdering 30 women, the number of victims by doctors who are killers can reach 100 or more. Convicted murderer Dr. Harold Shipman killed an estimated 270 patients and was convicted of killing 218. Dr. Michael Swango killed an estimated 60 patients and was convicted of 4 deaths. Dr. Virginia Soares de Souza of Brazil was implicated in over 300 patient deaths but charged with seven counts of murder in 2013. Also, the killer doctors push for cremation.
Another scary fact is that as their patient death rate escalates and suspicion mounts in one hospital, the killers just move to another state or even out of the country and continue their dirty work in a hospital there.
What enables them to keep practicing medicine? There’s a cloak of trust surrounding their profession, and they have deadly knowledge, access to the victim and to means of death, and are able to cover-up their crime. The institutional fear of bad publicity and subsequent lack of communication allows the killers to move from hospital to hospital.
Most of us visit our doctor maybe once a year. We don’t know his or her patients’ death rate. If someone close to us dies, would we know if the cause of death was actually related to the patient’s illness? Probably not. However, if your doctor seems overly interested in death and dying and recommends cremation, run.
And now that we’re all nervous, we should insist that the medical profession take complaints seriously, conduct thorough investigations into suspicious deaths, and improve regulation of death certification and controlled drugs, and, especially, insist on better communication between institutions.