Up until now, the world’s greatest (i.e. worst) serial killer has been Harold Shipman—a doctor convicted in 2004 of killing 15 patients, but who is suspected to have killed over 260 in the previous years. Now there is a new contender for the title: Dr. Virginia Soares de Souza.
“Brazil’s Ministry of Health has warned that, beyond the 20 cases its investigation team has already looked into, there are 300 more within a total of 1,700 hospital records over the last seven years that may prove to be connected. The head of the ministry’s investigation team, Dr. Mario Lobato, has made a disturbing concession to a local news network regarding the 300 pending records: ‘They all have the same modus operandi, the same relationship between the drug and the death, and the timing,’ The Guardian quotes him as saying.”
Not only was Soares de Souza allegedly a killer, but she even recruited a team to help her in her murders. She was arrested along with three other doctors and a nurse.
Their motive was simply to use medical resources where they could do the most good
“Prosecutors believe 56-year-old doctor Virginia Soares de Souza and her team routinely administered muscle relaxants and reduced patients’ oxygen supply while they were on life support, causing them to die of asphyxia. The motive behind the chilling practice behind the seven counts of first-degree murder was evidently to free up beds in the intensive care unit at the Evangelical Hospital in the southern Brazilian city of Curitiba. Opening such space would have required no more than a phone call by de Souza to her team.”
So why not give this woman a medal or a job at the World Health Organization or some similar group? Obviously this woman understands the problem of scarce resources. This is the same problem Paul Krugman promises will be solved by death panels. He told us that people like Dr. Soares de Souza would be the ones to sustain our economy in the coming years:
“We won’t be able to pay for the kind of government the society will want without some increase in taxes on the middle class, maybe a value added tax. And we’re also going to have to make decisions about health care, not pay for health care that has no demonstrated medical benefits. So the snarky version, which I shouldn’t even say because it will get me in trouble, is death panels and a sales tax is how we do this.”
Soares de Souza had simply started doing voluntarily what doctors will soon be ordered to do by the government if they are to keep their jobs. Should she be punished or rewarded?
All sarcasm aside, I believe this Doctor Death should be punished, but so should everyone who kills the sick—even if they do so according to law or regulations. What makes us think this woman is so different from many other doctors? What about the nurses not bothering to feed patients in the UK? Or who kill the elderly? Or babies?
As far as we know, if she’s guilty of the crimes, then Dr. Virginia Soares de Souza is typical rather than exceptional.