Monday, 31 October 2016


I have been hospitalized various times totalling as many as six months with respect to my heart attacks beginning in 1999 and ending in 2016. The nurses were very kind to me and looked after my needs. Alas there have been nurses who have killed their patients.

Elizabeth “Bethe” Tracey Mae Wettlaufer, 49, who worked at nursing homes in Woodstock and London, Ontario was charged on October 25th 2016 with the first-degree murders of eight residents aged 75 to 96. If she is convicted, she will either spend the rest of her life in prison or alternatively, in a psychiatric hospital for the insane. However, this article isn’t about her since there is much more to learn about her, information that is not available to me as of yet. I will give more details in another article in the future.

Across North America and Europe, it has been estimated that dozens of nurses and other health care workers have been accused of deliberately killing their patients and usually doing so with medication. It has also been estimated that such nurses have recently killed at least 328 patients and close to another 2,000 suspicious deaths have been linked to those murderers. One is also forced to wonder how many other patient deaths were caused by murderous nurses that were not suspicious deaths.

Obviously, murderous nurse are sociopaths who have motives that drives them into committing these crimes. There is a mistaken cultural assumption that women are, by their nature, incapable of being serial killers that is defined as murderers of three or more victims, spaced out various times between killings.

 This misconception, the psychologists warn, is a deadly mistake. They point out that one in six serial killers are females. Their crimes tend to go undetected for longer than their male counterparts, likely in part because our culture is in denial of women's proclivity for aggression. It is hard to believe that the nurse who extrudes kindness to her patients is actually a deadly killer.

Increasing our understanding of nurses who are serial killers may minimize the number of victims potentially lost in the future while maximizing the effectiveness of interventions to prevent vulnerable patients from nurses taking a killing path to achieve to the goals of killing human beings.

Why would someone who'd worked hard to become a nurse, a caregiver, turn around and harm her patients? The truth is that some people enter healthcare professions not to help others but to gain power, control, or attention. If they decide to harm or kill human beings, victims, medicines  and syringes are readily available.

Healthcare serial killers have been found among physicians, nurses, and key support staff. A study published in the Journal of Forensic Sciences in November 2006 examined 90 cases from twenty countries of criminal  prosecutions between 1970 and 2006. Fifty-four of the defendants had been convicted and other convictions were pending. Most had used one or more of the following methods to kill their patients; the injection of lethal substances, suffocation, poisoning, and/or equipment tampering.

Nurses (male and female) comprised of 86% of healthcare serial killers in a recent study. Often they worked alone, but a few had killed patients as a team.

Co-workers, administrators, and potential patients want to know how to spot and stop killer nurses. So do the police who might be called in to investigate the suspicious deaths because these deaths are notoriously difficult to document as murders. Yet healthcare serial killers tend to show the same types of behaviors, even when different motives inspire them to kill their patients.

Unfortunately, these killers who are under suspicion have been allowed to drift from one hospital to another, perhaps fired under a cloud of suspicion but rarely brought to justice until after their murder toll has reached shocking levels.

If a suspicious number deaths are documented, then officials can examine whether a high percentage had been unexpected, or if the death symptoms failed to match the patients’ conditions.

It’s also important to investigate whether a suspect nurse has a history of mental instability, depression, or odd behavior—especially aggression toward patients who annoy them.

Signs to look for are;

·        were given macabre nicknames by patients or others on staff, such as “Death Angel,” or “The Terminator.
·        were seen entering rooms where unexpected deaths occurred.
·        had moved often from one medical facility to another.
·        were secretive.
·        had a persistently difficult time with personal relationships.
·        liked to “predict” when a patient would die.
·        made inconsistent statements when asked about suspicious incidents.
·        preferred shifts where fewer colleagues and supervisors were around (generally the night shift).
·        were associated with several incidents at different institutions.
·        craved attention.
·        complained a lot about what a burden patients were.
·        tried to prevent others from checking on patients.
·        were seen in areas or patient rooms where they didn't belong.
·        hung around during the immediate death investigation.
·        possessed the suspect substance in their home, locker, or personal effects or had or has a substance abuse problem.
·        had lied about some detail of their personal information or credentials, or had falsified reports.
·        had been involved in other types of criminal activities.

Identifying such suspicious people as soon as possible requires documenting patterns of behavior and items of physical evidence that link the suspected individual to the suspicious death. Stopping them killing patient’s requires a sharp eye, knowledge about their typical traits and behaviors, and a desire to ensure that the acts of suspicious people be taken seriously. That may be difficult for regular nurses but they should express their concerns to their supervisors as soon as possible.

When I was a patient in a hospital in October 2015 for a heart attack, on one of those nights, I left my room because my roommate was making quite a noise and I couldn’t sleep.  After I left the room,  I walked to the end of the hall and slept on a comfortable chair. After I was asleep, I was woken up by a volunteer who yelled, “GET OUT OF MY CHAIR!” I refused. She reached for my right arm (which had been broken two weeks earlier in a near fatal car crash) saying that she was going to pull me out of the chair if I didn’t leave it. She backed off when I told her angrily that if she touched that arm, her work as a volunteer in that hospital would come to an abrupt end.

Back in the early 1970s while I was attending the University of Toronto studying to be a criminologist, I spent nine months studying abnormal psychology. Because of that training, I recognized that this young woman was aggressive, a bully and had no real empathy towards patients. For this reason, I filed a complaint against her and in my letter to the president of the medical organization that operates the three hospitals in my area I said in part;

Everyone who treats a patient in a hospital is individually responsible to that patient and the hospital is responsible to the patient for wrongful actions of a volunteer who works at the hospital.” unquote

The volunteer was subsequently banned from all three hospitals and the organization that used her services told her that they would not call on her again.

Any nurse and even a volunteer who yells at a patient and threatens unnecessary physical force on a patient is a danger to all patients in a hospital or nursing home and should be removed immediately from the facility.

In Part 2 of this series, I will tell you about one of the really bad nurses who killed ninety-three patients. 

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