Doctor 300 Deaths: Will Virginia Soares de Souza Be The Deadliest Doctor Of All Time?

By Jason Van Hoven on March 28, 2013 3:42 PM EDT

Virginia Soares de Souza
Will de Souza be etched in recent history as a more prolific serial-killer doctor than Britain's Harold Shipman? (Photo: Reuters)

A doctor and 300 deaths don't get together too well.

Virginia Soares de Souza, a 56-year-old doctor for Hospital Evangelico in Curitiba, Brazil, is being accused of killing up to 320 patients, according to Reuters, to free up hospital beds, which if proven true, will pen her as the deadliest doctor of all time -- more deadly than British doctor Harold Shipman, who murdered 215 patients aged between 47 and 93 over 25 years as the Daily Mail notes.

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Specifically, De Souza and her medical team are accused of administering muscle relaxing drugs to patients, then reducing their oxygen supply, causing them to die of asphyxia. As the Daily Mail also points out, police believe she targeted poorer patients who were staying at the hospital for free under Brazil's national health care system in order to make room for patients who could pay or had private health insurance.

Though extreme, the accusations aren't farfetched. De Souza was arrested last month and charged with seven counts of aggravated first degree murder over the premature deaths of seven terminally ill patients. Three other doctors, three nurses and a physiotherapist who worked under De Souza have also been charged with murder.

De Souza's voice was recorded by an undercover police officer saying that she wanted to "unclutter" her ward.

"I want to clear the intensive care unit," she said in one recording released to Brazilian media. "It's making me itch. Unfortunately, our mission is to be go-betweens on the springboard to the next life."

Plus, Brazil's Department of Health has increased the number of patients it claims De Souza has killed to 20 with the other 300 other suspicious deaths still to be investigated.

"There are 20 cases which have already been closed, and we have nearly 300 cases still open which we are looking at," said Dr. Mario Lobato, the chief investigator assigned by Brazil's Health Ministry, to Globo TV's Fantastico program on Sunday. "In each case, the testimony of people who worked inside the hospital confirmed what we have found on the patient records. All of them have the same modus operandi, the same relationship between the drug and death, and the same time between both."

In some cases, De Souza, when absent from the hospital, is alleged to have even given instructions to end the life of a patient by telephone to members of her medical team, according to documents detailing the charges.

Ironically, De Souza's husband, a doctor who died of intestinal cancer in 2006, is believed to have been her first victim.

Lobato also said that some of De Souza's patients were actually conscious and talking moments before they died.

"One was awake, being nebulized but not even connected to a respirator," he said. "This patient had asked his family to bring his glasses so he could do some reading while he was in the intensive care ward."

"Another patient had just asked a nurse for a cup of water," he continued. "This nurse testified that one of the things she will never forget is that she didn't manage to give him the cup of water because by the time she returned he had already died."

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