Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Did the nurse really murder 93 patients?

Italian nurse, Daniela Poggiali, 42, was a passionate supporter of the Juventus football team and the music of Elton John, keen on exotic travel and gym workouts. She qualified as a nurse 17 years ago and for the last 12 years, she had worked in the 30-bed general medicine ward at the Umberto I hospital in the small city of Lugo, between Bologna and Ravenna in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. She had cropped blonde hair and a number of striking tattoos. She has no children, but was dating Luigi Conficconi, a car mechanic, who is also a semi-professional soccer referee.

Poggiali had been working at the Lugo Hospital in the Ravenna province in northern Italy, when LifeNews had twice Daniela Poggiali. when she was originally arrested in October 2014 for killing up to 38 patients. She murdered them because she found them or their relatives annoying. She later said that she administered sedatives to patients who complained about their treatment. She had also given her patients laxatives, which made them incontinent.  Other times, coworkers said, she gave her patients laxatives at the end of a shift to make life more difficult for the nurses who came on afterward.

If any of my readers watched the movie, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest; you will remember Nurse Ratched. That evil nurse is more like a kindly old kindergarten teacher when compared to former nurse, Daniela Poggiali.

I saw a picture of Poggiali being taken away by the police. She had a big smile on her face as if she couldn’t care less as to what she had done and the fact that she was being arrested for her crimes. This evil woman is a megalomaniac with a God complex who felt that she was above the law.

The death of one of her victims, Rosa Calderoni, brought her crimes to light after she died from an injection of excess potassium. That chemical is necessary in our lives but an overdose can kill you beginning with a shortness of breath and an irregular heartbeat. I know this for a fact because I was given an overdose of Potassium accidentally and I ended up having difficulty in my breathing.

Officials suspected that Poggiali killed two more patients on that same day of Calderoni’s death.

Under Italian law, killing a patient through direct euthanasia with an overdose of drugs is illegal however, that wasn’t her motive. She admitted that she didn’t kill her patients because she saw that they were in pain or were suffering. She simply didn’t want to deal with them anymore and killing them was a quick way to fix that problem.

At first, Poggiali had denied killing anyone and insisted that she was being  framed but investigators said they found pictures of Poggiali posing with patients who had just died. Those ghoulish selfies shot down her defence that she was being framed.

Newsweek had a more extensive profile of Poggiali and stated that if she was convicted of killing those dozens of patients, then she would qualify as one of the most prolific serial killers in history. Little did that magazine know then that this killer nurse had killed far more patients than was originally reported.

Later, that Italian nurse nicknamed The Angel of Death was in jail in Italy under investigation for the murder of up to 96 patients in the course of a single year in the hospital ward where she worked. That would come to one death every three days between April 2013 and April 2014.

The dubious record is currently held by the Colombian Luis Garavito, whose victims, it was proven, were 138 children, murdered over a five-year period during the 1990s. The record for the greatest number of murders committed by a nurse is held by an American, Charles Cullen, who was given six life sentences in 2006 for the murder of 40 patients (though he was suspected of causing up to 400 deaths) in New Jersey and Pennsylvania over a 16-year period. More on them in future articles.

What makes Poggiali’s case especially chilling is her motive. Whereas some doctors or nurses who kill their patients do so for reasons of mercy however, Daniela Poggiali killed her patients simply because they irritated her. She even took photographs of herself on her smartphone while standing next to the corpse of one of her patients. She later posted the pictures online. In some of the pictures taken in January 2014 by another nurse, she is laughing and making lewd gestures next to the corpse of an old lady, who had just died in her ward. In one picture, she is leaning over the corpse grinning and making a thumbs-up sign. In the other, she is lying down next to the corpse with her mouth open, pointing a finger at the dead patient’s face as if it were a gun. According to a colleague, “She was particularly euphoric and wanted to have a photo next to the dead body.”

Hospital bosses only became suspicious of Poggiali in March 2014, after the unexplained deaths of five patients, who died in the space of a week during night shifts when she was working more or less alone on her ward. They did not call the police but moved her to day shifts in order, as they would later put it, to keep a closer eye on her. Three days later, on the morning of the 8th of April, 2014, that was when another patient, Rosa Calderoni was murdered by Poggiali.

The 78-year-old woman’s daughter, Manuela Alci, who was present that morning, said that she was told to leave the room while Poggiali gave medication to her mother, who had multiple health problems. Ten minutes later, Manuela was allowed back into the room and noticed that her mother’s eyes were rolling uncontrollably and that she had a glass tube inserted in her arm like a drip which, she said, had not been there before. Then, while she was holding her hand, her mother died.

Lead prosecutor, Alessandron Mancini said that Ms. Poggiali seemed “unperturbed” when she was arrested. He also said that police found a disturbing “selfie” of Ms. Poggiali’s phone showing her giving a thumbs-up in front of a deceased patient.

It was reported in the Italian paper, Corrieredella Sera, that colleagues of Ms. Poggiali overheard her saying things like, “Leave it to me, I’ll quiet them” and was known to be cynical and a vindictive nurse.

It is most unfortunate for the victims that her colleagues were not oblivious to the 'coincidence' that she was present at many of the deaths at the hospital - the problem was openly gossiped about by her colleagues. One nurse, Sara Pausini admitted to the Italian Carabinieri (police): “We had for some time been talking about Poggiali and about the strange number of dead patients, even three on the same day. When I went to work with her I began to count the strange number of deaths to see if it was by bad luck or something else.”

The trouble is that some people who suspect crimes being committed; don’t inform their superiors or other authorities.

In the shocking case of victim Oriana Cricca, who died on March 31, an unnamed nurse was asked to tend to the older woman, after her nasal feeding tube began to leak onto the pillow. The nurse was carrying out a complicated procedure on another patient, so Poggiali said that she would
take care of it.

A few minutes later the patient had died 'in agony. It was later discovered that two vials of potassium chloride had gone missing from the hospital. That particular medicine is very hard to detect as it leaves the body within hours. But on this occasion, the doctors were swift to test the elderly woman's aqueous humour which is in her eyeball where it is easiest to detect. There they found the poison in a quantity which would have caused a heart attack. They also found a syringe which had contained potassium in a disposal unit. Believing they finally had sufficient evidence of a murder having taken place, they finally reported Poggiali to the police.

Additionally, Ms. Poggiali would deliberately give laxatives to patients at the end of the day so that other nurses would have to deal with the effects and she would sedate patients who complained about their treatment. Obviously Poggiali believed that she really had the right to do away with inconvenient or difficult patients. She was also harsh on patients who had a difficult condition, because they were agitated or asked for more help or more medication.

To add to the horrific list of accusations, police also suspected that she stole cash and belongings from her vulnerable elderly patients either before or after she mistreated them. In fact, Poggiali was a compulsive thief and she stole liberally from patients up to 100 euros at a time, as well as soaps and shower gels and drugs such as antibiotics from the hospital.

Speaking through her lawyer Stefano Valle at her trial, Poggiali said she was unable to explain the fact she was present for all 93 deaths in two years, which was double that of any other colleague, other than that she worked a lot of shifts.

She also claimed that she is the victim of a plot by a colleague with a grudge. She was even suing the hospital for her wrongful dismissal. That civil case would go about as far as a slug trapped in frozen molasses.

Poggiali had no previous history of mental illness so she couldn’t use insanity as a defence. She is however, a psychopath which means that she is suffering from an anti- personality disorder.

Psychopaths are incapable of empathy and forming loving relationships. However, they can pretend to be charming and loving, so those around them can't always detect their lack of empathy. Of course psychopaths can also show signs of anger and frustration like other human beings. Psychopaths also have no conscience or moral compass, so they do not feel guilt. 

In May of this year, Poggiali was sentenced to life in jail for killing one of her elderly patients at the hospital in Lugo.  She is also facing trial over the other deaths of the patients who were in her care. Her defence was and I quote, “I haven't killed anyone. Rather, I always lived to help others.” Yeah, and pigs fly. She admitted she was 'wrong' to take selfies with dead patients, but she blamed a colleague for the sick images. She said the shocking pictures were a 'mistake' and were meant to be kept 'private' between her and the fellow female health worker she accused of taking them.

When colleagues finally alerted police to Poggiali's suspicious behaviour, the police found the appalling selfies of her laughing and joking next to the corpse of a woman on her mobile phone.

She appears to be unfazed by prison where she must be enjoying a certain notoriety. She has been inundated by fan mail. Some of them have praises telling her that she is good looking. Actually, she is good looking. It just goes to show you that not all persons who commit murder are ugly monsters. She also gets love letters and offers of marriage should she ever be released from prison. This just goes to show you that there really are freaks everywhere who like flies, are drawn directly to the deadly flypaper.  

Unfortunately, similar ideology to that of this evil nurse is not unheard of in the medical community. For example, infamous bioethics professor, Peter Singer,  has publically stated that medical professionals should be permitted to lethally inject fatal drugs into the arms of Alzheimer’s “non-persons”, even if they never asked to be killed.

As Bobby Schindler, the brother of Terri Schiavo, (a woman who was in a coma for years before she was finally euthanized) explained in an article,Yes, we have a culture of death “.  There are many examples of life threatening prejudices plaguing the disability community and those who are medically vulnerable.” unquote

It is most unfortunate that too many people nowadays have become disconnected and desensitized to the dignity and intrinsic worth of human beings. It seems that a great number of our fellow humans no longer know how to love, and they seem to place more significance and value on what a person can or cannot do, instead of understanding the value and dignity of the human person, even if they are too ill to function normally. That is a sad commentary of our society today.

While some prejudices might seem kinder than former nurse, Poggiali’s reasoning; they all lead down the same path—killing people because they are inconvenient or unwanted.

In Part 3, I will present to you other examples of killer nurses.               

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