19th-century surgeon Thomas Inman said it best: “First, do no harm”.
There is also a variant of this in the modern Hippocratic oath. It reminds doctors to: “Practice two things in your dealings with disease: either help or do not harm the patient.”
Seeking relief for pain is why people visit the doctor; it shouldn’t be hard to do, right? That’s till you read about the exploits of some doctors. Calling them depraved and shocking doesn’t do some of these acts any justice. Rather than easing their suffering, these doctors made things worse for their patients, which often led to their deaths.
To explain their behavior, some analysts blame the high esteem society holds them, for making them lose the plot and thinking they’re God. Others blame momentary lapses in judgment due to the stressful nature of the job.
While some of their actions are pranks, like the doctors who were fired for planking in the hospital, others are more chilling. Richard Kaul is a medical doctor, who, in 2001, was convicted of manslaughter in the UK. Fleeing to New Jersey, he opened a spine surgery practice and started “treating” patients. The only problem is, he wasn’t a qualified spine surgeon; he was an anesthetist.
After practicing for a few years, former patients started to complain of excruciating pain, with some facing potential disability. 11 of them sued him for failed procedures, and were awarded different settlements.
And it’s not just doctors; nurses, pharmaceutical companies, even government health agencies are guilty of appalling behaviors towards patients.
From one doctor imitating other specialists to doctors willfully poisoning patients, this list will make you think twice about your next appointment.
10. Dr. Simon Bramhall
Organ tagging. Never heard of it? Not many people have.
In 2009, a California gynecologist, Dr. Red Alinsod, was sued for carving a name into a patient’s uterus. His defense was that he didn’t want to mix her extracted uterus with others. Since when did carving a name in inch-high letters become the best way to keep track of organs?
This bizarre practice reared its head in the UK, when a respected liver surgeon, Dr. Simon Bramhall, was accused of the same thing. Using argon gas, he carved HIS initials into living patients’ livers! Following an internal disciplinary investigation, Dr. Bramhall was suspended from his post at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.
9. Dr. Farid Fata
Thanks to the Internet, we can attempt a diagnosis and start self medicating (not advised). But it’s another thing to visit a doctor and still get misdiagnosed. In the case of Dr. Farid Fata, a respected Oakland County oncologist, misdiagnosis was a path to profit.
For years, Dr. Fata recommended and prescribed chemotherapy to patients, whether they had cancer or not! As painful and debilitating as chemo is, this doctor forced ALL patients to take the treatment. His actions netted him over $ 17 million in fraudulent billings over a six year period.
By over-treating terminally ill cancer patients, he could milk more out of them before they passed. By under-treating actual cancer patients, he prolonged their dependence on his prescriptions. By prescribing chemo for patients who didn’t need it, he just made profits. Found guilty of health care fraud and money laundering, Dr. Fata was sentenced to 45 years in jail.
8. Dr. John Hall
In this creepy case, a Charlotte dentist, John Hall, was accused of committing sexual assault in 2004. While he didn’t directly anyone, several female patients accused him of tricking them into swallowing his semen.
In a shocking abuse of trust, Hall would ask his assistants to leave the room to fetch instruments. While they were gone, he would squirt his semen from a syringe into the patient’s mouth, while urging them to swallow quickly. Falsely claiming that it was a “cleaning solution”, Hall got away with this for years.
When he never used the instruments he requested for, and when an assistant saw him slip a syringe out of his pocket, suspicions were aroused. His case was further compounded by patients objecting to the foul tasting “cleaning solution.”
When arrested and charged, Hall pleaded innocent and blamed the charges on disgruntled former employees. But faced with the overwhelming evidence, he soon changed his plea and was jailed for four months.
7. Victorino Chua
In an example of extreme nonchalance, a male Filipino nurse working at the Stepping Hill Hospital was found guilty of tampering with saline drips. He reportedly laced the the drips with insulin and put them back in storage, for other nurses to administer.
When administered, the insulin led to rapid, inexplicable low blood sugar which often resulted in the patient dying. When other nurses grew wise to the insulin tampering, Chua changed tactics. He started altering patients prescription charts, sometimes tripling the prescribed dosage.
In May 2015, Chua was found guilty of murdering two patients, poisoning 20 more and was jailed for life.
6. Dr. Howard Schneider
Nobody can blame little kids for being scared of visiting the dentist; many adults would rather avoid them if they could. Dr. Howard Schneider is one of those guys who isn’t going to make this situation better anytime soon.
In May 2015, a six year-old girl came into his practice to have one tooth extracted. Four hours later, Dr. Schneider had removed SEVEN! The child also accused the dentist of choking and hitting her. Posting her daughters’ mangled mouth on Facebook to “tell everybody what happened,” she found that other families had suffered the same fate.
All their claims were eerily similar: unwanted extractions, hitting and choking. The reasoning behind this dentist’s horrifying actions came down to sheer greed. Thanks to Medicaid’s accounting, he was paid per tooth procedure. So he could cap one tooth twice, then extract it and get paid for three procedures.
Investigations found that he collected $4 million in reimbursements in the last five years. In 1995, Schneider was sued for allegedly putting 16 crowns in a three-year-old’s mouth! By the end of May, Schneider had shut down his practice.
5. Genene Anne Jones
It’s assumed that all females have some kind of maternal instinct, but occasionally you come across stories that make you doubt that fact, especially when you learn that all the victims were infants.
In 1982, while working as a pediatric nurse in the Bexar County Medical Center in San Antonio, an abnormally high number of children seemed to die on Genene Anne Jones’ night shift. In many cases, they didn’t die of the illness that brought them in hospital in the first place.
An investigation found that Jones was administering lethal doses of succinylcholine, which causes muscle relaxation and short term paralysis. She was investigated for the unexplained deaths of 10 infants and forced to resign from Bevar County.
Taking a job in Kerrville, Texas, she continued her deeds and ended up poisoning six children there. In 1985, she was found guilty of the murder of 15-month old Chelsea McClellan and sentenced to 99 years in jail. Due to a loophole in Texas law, she may be released in 2017.
4. Dr. Virginia Helena Soares de Souza
In a shocking case of group abuse, Dr. de Souza and seven other health care professionals had been charged with killing patients in Curitiba, Brazil. By administering lethal doses of anesthetics, tampering with the patient’s oxygen supply and even pulling the plug on life support machines, this doctor was constantly trying to free up bed space.
The thought of a doctor who is entrusted with saving lives to be more concerned about creating space is thoroughly disconcerting. At the moment, de Souza is being investigated for the deaths of seven patients in her care.
A wider investigation is also underway, probing the deaths of up to 300 patients at the Evangelical Hospital where she worked with her team.
3. Dr. Maxim Petrov
Petrov is something straight out of a horror movie, and it’s not just because he’s nicknamed “Doctor Killer” and “Doctor Death” either. Between 1997 and 2000, Dr. Petrov decided a life of committing robberies would be better than being a medic.
His M.O. consisted of visiting elderly patients at home, lying to them that they needed some medication and proceed to knock them out with an anesthetic. Whilst they were unconscious, he would comb the house looking for valuables to steal.
In 1999, he was interrupted while carrying out a robbery; following that, he made sure to inject victims with a lethal cocktail and made sure he set the house ablaze as he left. His spree continued till he was caught in 2000. He was tried for 17 murders in 2002, and found guilty of 12. For these, he was sentenced to life in prison.
2. Dr. Jayant Patel
Greed doesn’t appear to be the motive for Dr. Patel’s crimes. You can chalk it up to sheer incompetence and failure to give proper care; incompetence so bad, that he was labeled as “Dr. E. Coli.” A total disregard for hygiene led to almost all his patients coming down with serious infections.
In one of his first roles in Buffalo, New York, Patel was cited for not examining patients before surgery and received a fine. Moving to Oregon in 1989, Patel failed to disclose his previous disciplinary actions.
Fleeing to Australia in 2003, he was appointed the Director of Surgery at the Bundaberg Base Hospital. He also ran a practice which was described as “antiquated.” Over the next two years, 87 patients in his care died. Following whistle-blowing and a journalist digging up the many patient claims of injury and death caused by the doctor’s care, Patel fled Australia.
Extradited back to face charges in 2008, he was tried in the Queensland Supreme Court for unlawful killing and causing grievous bodily harm. Though he pleaded not guilty, in June 2010, he was found guilty of all charges, banned from ever practicing medicine in Australia and sentenced to seven years in jail.
1. Dr. Harold Shipman
By all indications, Shipman appeared to be your friendly neighborhood GP. But beneath the scraggly beard, big-rimmed glasses and calm demeanor lay a terrifying individual. This British doctor is regarded as one of the most prolific serial killers in recorded history. In an extreme case of patient abuse, Shipman is suspected of killing up to 250 patients.
His crimes only came to light when a local funeral parlor director and another doctor noticed the high death rate and cremation requests among Shipman’s patients. The police inquiry that followed found that he was injecting high doses of diamorphine into his patients.
As their health declined, he falsified their medical records to report that they were in poor health. Shipman was also found guilty of falsifying dying patients’ wills and leaving himself vast portions of their estates.
After a much publicized trial, he was jailed in January 2000 for 15 life sentences. Shipman hung himself in his cell in January 2004.
Ready for your next appointment? The doctor will see you now…