Brazil studies Curitiba doctor's link to 300 deaths

Dr Virginia Helena Soares de Souza, centre, who is charged with killing seven patients, is escorted by police officers to a temporary prison in Curitiba, Parana state, Brazil on 19 February 2013 Dr de Souza says her accusers lack the medical expertise to understand how her patients died

Related Stories

Some 300 deaths at a Brazilian hospital are being studied for possible links to a medical team charged with murder.

Dr Virginia Soares de Souza and seven assistants at an intensive care unit in the city of Curitiba are already charged with killing seven patients.

But an investigator told Brazil's Globo news channel that another 20 deaths were suspicious and a further 300 were being looked into.

Dr de Souza denies the murder charges along with her former staff.

She was arrested in February and released on bail last week.

But prosecutors have sought to have her returned to custody in light of her alleged leadership role in orchestrating the deaths.

Muscle-relaxing drugs

Dr de Souza - said to be a 56-year-old widow - worked at the Evangelical Hospital in Curitiba in the south of Brazil.

Prosecutors say she gave muscle-relaxing drugs to patients before reducing their oxygen supply, causing them to asphyxiate.

Start Quote

I want to clear the intensive care unit. It's making me itch”

End Quote Comment attributed to Dr de Souza in wiretap recording released by state prosecutors

She has been charged with seven counts of aggravated first-degree murder.

Three doctors, three nurses and a physiotherapist who are suspected of carrying out her orders have been charged with murder.

But the medical records of 1,700 patients who died at the hospital in the last seven years are now being studied and more than 20 were now deemed suspicious, Dr Mario Lobato - the chief investigator assigned by Brazil's health ministry - told Globo.

"There are nearly 300 more that we are looking into," Dr Lobato said.

According to Reuters news agency, state prosecutors have released wiretaps which apparently show that her motive was to free up beds.

"I want to clear the intensive care unit. It's making me itch," she said in one recording.

"Unfortunately, our mission is to be go-betweens on the springboard to the next life," she added.

Physiotherapists, dieticians, nurses and nursing technicians are said to have reported their fears that she was hastening the deaths of critically ill patients.

But Dr de Souza claims those accusing her lack the expertise to make a correct judgement.

"We will soon prove that everything that took place in that ICU [intensive care unit] is justified by the medical literature," her lawyer Elias Mattar Assad told Globo.

More on This Story

Related Stories

More Latin America & Caribbean stories

RSS

Features & Analysis

  • Cerro RicoSatanic mines

    Devil worship in the tunnels of the man-eating mountain


  • Nefertiti MenoeWar of words

    The woman who sparked a row over 'speaking white'


  • Oil pumpPump change

    What would ending the US oil export ban do to petrol prices?


  • Brazilian Scene, Ceara, in 1893Sir Snapshot

    19th Century Brazil seen through the eyes of an Englishman


Elsewhere on the BBC

  • SailingGame on

    BBC Capital discovers why certain sports seem to have a special appeal for those with deep pockets

Programmes

  • Prof Piot, the first person to indentify Ebola virusHARDtalk Watch

    Ebola expert warns travellers could spread the disease further if it is not contained

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.