Under a cover of possessing special resuscitation skills, a German male nurse has been found to have killed at least 90 patients by injecting them with an overdose of cardiovascular medication, reports a three-year long police investigation.
Niels Högel, 40, was imprisoned for life in 2015 for committing two murders. He was also suspected of having attempted to murder many patients in intensive care at Delmenhorst hospital in northern Germany.
On re-examining scores of patient files and exhuming more than 130 bodies in Germany, Poland and Turkey, starting from the time that he was employed at another hospital till he was caught in the act by a colleague, police have stumbled upon that Högel had killed at least 88 other patients. As many of his former patients were cremated, chances are that the the total number of murders committed could be twice as much.
Chief police investigator Arne Schmidt said:
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“The death toll is unique in the history of the German republic. Högel did kill randomly, but mainly targeted the critical care patients.”
Giving details about the investigation at a press conference, Schmidt said, there was “evidence for at least 90 murders, and at least as many [suspected] cases again that can no longer be proven”.
German police is of the view that the person, whom the media is calling out as “Germany’s worst serial killer”, killed his first patient in February 2000 when he was working at a clinic in Oldenburg in Lower Saxony, close to the Dutch border. After having killed about 35 patients at this clinic, he switched his workplace and moved to a larger hospital in Delmenhorst, near the north-western city of Bremen. Within a week after a change in his workplace, the psychopath nurse resumed his savage practice.
The investigations found that Högel would inject patients’ veins with a cardiovascular drug to create a medical emergency that would require him to step in and resuscitate them in the hospital’s intensive care unit.
He would use life-threatening drugs such as ajmaline, sotalol, lidocaine, amiodarone and calcium chloride, the police disclosed. An overdoses can lead to life-threatening cardiac arrhythmia and a drop in blood pressure, causing a rapid decline in an already ill patient.
It was on 22 June, 2002, that a colleague witnessed Högel injecting ajmaline to a patient. The patient died a day later. Instead of reporting the matter to the police, the management had kept mum. Two days later another patient in the same hospital died with similar conditions.
held that “the murders could have been prevented,” held Johann Kühme, police head at Oldenburg. “If the other persons in charge would have acted a little earlier, a number of deaths could have been averted. Instead, the nurse was given a spotless report that allowed him to continue the killing spree at another hospital.”
“People at the clinic in Oldenburg knew of the abnormalities.”
In 2008, Högel was finally sentenced to seven and a half years of imprisonment for attempt to murder.
In 2015 the gravity of the crime was again brought before the court where Högel confessed to administering 90 unauthorized injections, out of which 30 had been fatal because he had been unable to resuscitate the patients. At the time, he said he felt “fully responsible” for the 30 deaths but denied any further killings.
Though Högel has already been sentenced to life in prison, with the police’s new investigation about the accused having committed at least 90 murders, the case is expected to be brought before the courts again. Charges based on the new investigation are expected to be filed by the first quarter of next year.