9/17/2014 – Writers and the Doctor Who Kills
Psycho kept me out of the shower, and Jaws kept me out of the water. The Chesapeake Chapter of Sisters in Crime, an association of mystery writers and fans, just presented a talk by forensic psychiatrist Dr. Eindra Khin Khin on serial murderers in the health care professions. Now I want to keep away from doctors, nurses, and hospitals.
One chilling bit of data is that serial killers like Jeffrey Dahmer, who killed 17, and Ted Bundy, who killed 30, just can’t reach the numbers that doctors can because doctors can evade detection and punishment so much longer. Convicted serial killer Dr. Harold Shipman of Great Britain killed an estimated 270 people but was convicted of killing 218. Dr. Michael Swango in the United States probably killed 60 people and was convicted of killing 4. Dr. Virginia Soares de Souza of Brazil, implicated in over 300 patient deaths, was charged with seven counts of murder in 2013. As suspicion mounts and they are fired, these medical killers move from one hospital to the next until, we all hope, they are finally caught.
Dr. Khin noted that of the convicted killers among the health care professionals, 25 percent were doctors, 45 percent were nurses and 30 percent were others. She also described the various motives for such killings and concluded with red flags to monitor patient care and practical, systemic safeguards to better detect and deter this dangerous brand of serial killer.
So if your doctor’s colleagues call him “Dr. Death,” and he shows too much interest in death and dying, run to the nearest exit, especially if he starts recommending cremation. To safeguard us all, the medical profession needs to take complaints seriously, conduct thorough investigations, improve regulation of death certification and controlled drugs, and insist on better communication within and between institutions.
Meanwhile, the dubious websites in my computer’s history cache continue to grow as I research serial killers, murdering medics, murder methods, and body disposal. All to make the mysteries I write more correct and believable.