Vol. 11, #13.8 – Sept. 23, 2019–ALLAN GOLD’S BLOG: log
Twelfth (extra) blog post of series on Elder Law for seniors and their families, particularly spouses, adult children, caregivers, etc. Today’s Topic : Health Care Killers – Part – 4
I’m continuing on with the topic of health care killers. Of course, the harm being inflicted is huge. But these outcomes are grotesque because these murderers are hospital medical team members or on staff rendering personal care at a seniors’ residence. Hold your noses for more stories. Please tell your lawyer about this subject – I’m on a mission to keep more elderly folks safe and secure. You see, I want to get the word out to law firms in Montreal, so that each “avocat” in Montreal, particularly those who are family law lawyers can help in this regard!
B. HORRIFIC REAL- LIFE EXAMPLES: Niels Hoegel, Dr. Harold Shipman (UK) and . Charles Cullen (US)).
I will hereafter write about the case of Niels Hoegel, providing some biographical-case notes, issues & lessons to be gleaned, etc. therefrom. I graded it or or or . Of course, I’m interested in knowing if you agree with this ranking. (Before leaving this topic, I have added supplementary notes on two others who were notorious in their own right, notably Dr. Harold Shipman (UK) and . Charles Cullen (US)).
Niels Hoegel. This guy was the accused in the biggest serial killing case in Germany’s post-war history. What makes this case even more heinous was the fact that as a nurse (born 30 December 1976), he killed 100+- patients in his care! And what’s so agonizing is that the killing spree crossed international borders, taking place in various health care institutions over a period of five years.
Biographical-Case Notes: This case prompted a multi-year police investigation, involving the exhumation of 134 bodies from 67 cemeteries in three countries, seeking traces of deadly drugs Here are the facts resulting form the investigation and also arising from the confession of the accused, such in a brief chronological format.
2000: This is the year of the first murder – he was then employed at a clinic in Oldenburg, close to the Dutch border. He worked there from 1999 to 2002 – during this period, he killed nearly 40 more patients. “The murders could have been prevented,” said Johann Kühme, head of police in Oldenburg, where Hoegel is first thought to have killed. “People at the clinic in Oldenburg knew of the abnormalities.” Instead, Hoegel moved from hospital to hospital with a spotless record.
2003: This was the year when Hoegel moved to a hospital in Delmenhorst, near the northwestern city of Bremen. A week after starting the new job, he killed again. He worked at that clinic for another two years before finally being discovered.
2005: This was the year when a colleague noticed him administering ajmaline to a patient, who died the next day. This colleague then reported Hoegel to hospital managers, who for some reason, decided not to confront him or call the police. By the time they did, he had killed another patient — his last. (Apparently, this mass murderer managed to escape suspicion for more than a decade because his victims were already critically sick in intensive care units. But authorities laid some of the blame at the feet of officials at the hospitals where Hoegel worked, saying that they could have acted faster and prevented some deaths. And the authorities were reluctant to act until the end of Hoegel’s slayings.)
2008: This was the year when Hoegel was convicted for the first time. The conviction was for attempted murder, but over the next decade came new revelations — and a rising body count.
2015: At the start of a hearing in Oldenburg, northwestern Germany, Hoegel confessed to killing more that 30 patients. However, in this case, he was convicted of two murders and two attempted murders and he was then sentenced to life in prison.
Aug 28, 2017: This was the date when a police investigation concluded that Hoegel was responsible for at least 90 deaths.
January 22, 2018: This was the date when a new indictment was laid charging Hoegel with killing an additional 97 patients at two hospitals over half a decade.
October 30, 2018: This was the date when Hoegel, 41, was again in court in Oldenburg, Germany, facing these new charges. (N.B. It’s noteworthy that he was already serving a life sentence for murder, While Germany doesn’t allow consecutive life sentences, more convictions could affect his chances of being released on parole. That’s a good thing. In my opinion, he should not be allowed to walk the streets of average people. Although claiming in 2015 to be “honestly sorry” for the deaths and saying that he hoped his conviction would bring some peace to the families of the victims, that does not bring much solace to the grieving. For them, the aim is for Hoegel to stay in custody for as long as possible. Frank Brinkers, whose father died at his hands, said, “We want him to get the sentence that he deserves.”)
* Insight into the mind of a killer: He said he had intentionally brought about cardiac distress in 90 patients at one facility where he had worked and had killed people at another. He had made the same claims while bragging to other inmates. Hoegel said the decision to administer life-threatening dosages of medication was “usually spontaneous.” Each time someone died, according to the BBC, Hoegel vowed to never act again. But afterward, his resolve would slowly fade.
Questions at Issue & Lessons to be gleaned:
In my perspective, they are as follows.
1. “Could this murderous run have been avoided?” My answer is “Yes.” My answer is “Yes, but it would have been very difficult. You see, it’s a three- fold problem of means motive and opportunity. Here are the three sub-questions.
1.1 “What was the means to execute the crime?” Apparently, this killer injected victims with drugs or intentionally administered medical overdoses. Indeed, it was reported: “Niels Hoegel’s deadly drugs of choice were ajmaline, lidocaine and calcium chloride — medications that he would administer to send his patients into arrhythmia or force their blood pressure to crash to dangerously low levels. Then, as he testified, after taking the patients to the brink of death, he would revel in his attempt to bringing them back to life. But sometime he didn’t!
1.2 “What was the motive?” Hoegel was accused of intentionally administering medical overdoses to patients thereby putting them in life-threatening situations. The prosecutor claims he did this out of boredom. The prosecution added that these orchestrated medical emergencies were also motivated by vanity since they would require him to step in and bring the patients back to life and show off his resuscitation skills thusly impress his colleagues.
1.3 “Did the suspect have the opportunity to commit the crime?” Yes, being on the floor, he had full access to the patients, who became his victims.
2. “How did Niels Hoegel get away with it for so long?” This is the big question for me. It’s perplexing that Hoegel had been allowed to kill with impunity for more than a decade. Indeed, he was allowed to go unchecked for years at two German hospitals. He was able to escape suspicion because his victims were aged in poor condition or in ill health suffering from one or more diseases, disorders, etc. In addition, the victims were seen as deceased of natural causes as opposed to homicide victims. And his modus operendi (MO) was difficult to spot and he repeated his murderous ritual over and over. (N.B. And even after he was caught, “it took authorities a long time to realize the full scope of what he had done.”
Final Word: After researching this topic, I’m sure that you won’t blame me for saying to these people, “You’re not just demented and evil-minded, but utterly despicable, undeserving of being part of the human species.” And you can quote me on that!
Side Lights: Honestly, I want to leave this dark topic. Instead of dissecting more of the cases on these notorious villains, I will just make cursory reference to a few more to reinforce the fact that this is a global problem with ex-nurse Elizabeth Wettlaufer being a part of an aberrant line of health workers who are the worst of the worst.
Dr. Harold Shipman. In the United Kingdom, this General Practitioner (GP) was known as “Doctor Death”. It’s believed that he had killed at least 250 female patients. In 2000, he was sentenced to 15 life terms. In 2004, he died in a suspected suicide. Forgive me, but I can’t help but say: “How could you? ….so many lives lost and broken…good riddance!” why didn’t you kill yourself before starting your killing spree?
Charles Cullen. This is an American face of the Satan. Charles Cullen is a former critical care nurse who admitted to killing 40 patients in New Jersey and Pennsylvania during his 16-year career. (Mike Derer/Associated Press). Nevertheless, authorities suspect that he was responsible for hundreds more. Indeed, case experts believe that it’s possible that he could have caused more than 300 deaths. That would make him the most prolific serial killer in U.S. history! I’m left gagging at the staggering size of the hurt that this evil-doer inflicted upon everyday people.
I won’t repeat what I’ve already said. Such still stands as my conclusions.
But hereinafter are my last thoughts.
We all should keep this blog in perspective. These killers are the antithesis of health workers. Don’t paint care team members across the board with this terrible brush. Wettlaufer, Hoegel and the rest of their ilk are just a minute percentage of those right-thinking individuals who daily strive to give due and proper care to aged patients/ residents throughout the world.
Nevertheless, I’m haunted by the chilling message of serial killer, Niels Hoegel, who said, “There are more victims.” Accordingly, I exhort both management and government to increase attention on the elderly throughout the health service network. With a view to promoting better care and enhance security of patents-residents, everyone up and down the line must focus on long-term care /nursing homes and do everything possible in order to aid regulators and management to achieve a well-managed facility, which is closely regulated by an effective government department. It’s that important!
Furthermore, as a society, we each have a role in achieving proper and empathetic one-on-one care. The golden rule for patient-residents and family members alike, is to be courteous, constantly saying thank you and showing appreciation. Next, each of us must keep our eyes wide open. And if suspicious of something or someone and you want my opinion, I would offer, “Well, you know what they say, where there’s smoke, there’s fire.”
Finally, I’ll leave with you the thought, “Shame on these killers the first time they kill – indeed, Niels Högel hid his face from the cameras while being led out of court, but shame on us the second time!”
D. PREVIEW OF NEXT IN THE ELDER LAW BLOG SERIES: I believe that with this blog series on elder abuse, I may have got you thinking about the well-being of the aged at long-term care /nursing homes. Now I will consider the impact of age upon the safety and security of citizens on the roadways and highways. Yes you guessed it. I’m speaking about the touchy topic of an older person driving a motor vehicle. It’s hard for the senior driver, but it’s also very difficult for family members to navigate this subject. Interested? Want to get more information and better understand the whys and wherefores? See you next time.*
E. NOTICE – CAUTION –DISCLAIMER. The material provided herein is of a general nature, strictly for informational purposes. The interpretation and analysis is not to be misapplied to a personal situation with a particular set of facts. Under no circumstances, are the herein suggestions and tips, intended to bring a reader to the point of acting or not acting, but instead, the hope is that they are to be a cause for pause and reflection. It is specifically declared that this content is not to be a replacement of or substitution for legal or any other appropriate advice. To the contrary, for more information on these presents, related subjects or any other questions, it is the express recommendation of the author that everyone seek out and consult a qualified professional or competent adviser.
* ©/TM 2019, 2015-2018,Allan Gold, Practitioners’ Press Inc. – ALL RIGHTS RESERVED