Daniela Poggiali, an Italian nurse, was arrested in October for allegedly killing up to 38 patients because she found them or their relatives annoying. Now, new reports indicate the number of patients Poggiali killed may have been as high as 96.
One of her victims, Rosa Calderoni, brought her crimes to light after she died from an injection of potassium. Officials suspect that Ms. Poggiali may have killed two more patients on the same day of Calderoni’s death.
Under Italian law, killing a patient through direct euthanasia with an overdose of drugs is illegal. Not that it would make it any better, but Ms. Poggiali didn’t claim that she killed 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 was a quick fix.
Poggiali has denied killing anyone and insists she’s being framed but investigators said they found pictures of Poggiali posing with patients who had just died.
Almost 100 deaths occurred under the watch of an Italian nurse accused of murdering dozens of patients, health officials said.
Police were initially investigating 38 suspect deaths at a hospital in Lugo di Romagna, near Ravenna, after an autopsy found poison in the system of an elderly woman in the care of Daniela Poggiali, a 42-year-old nurse from the nearby town of Faenza.
Detectives have now extended their probe to as many as 96 deaths that occurred during Poggiali’s shifts in a 12 months period.
The developments came after health officials released patient mortality figures for each of the 39 nurses in service at the Umberto I hospital from April 2013 to April 2014.
Investigators in charge of the probe have described the results, which revealed Poggiali topped the list by a large margin, as “worrying”, Ansa news agency reported.
Fifty patients died in her direct care in the period under consideration – almost three times more than those who passed under the watch of the nurse with the second highest patient mortally rate (17), according to Ravenna’s Local Health Agency Unit (Ausl). Another 46 patients died under the supervision of colleagues she was aiding or in beds she had otherwise access to during her shifts.
The nurse was fired earlier this year after sickening photos of her posing with thumbs up near an apparently deceased woman emerged.
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.
Mancini said, “I can assure you in that all my professional years of seeing shocking photos, there were few such as these.” He also said that homicide will be difficult to prove since potassium chloride is hard to detect after a few days in the bloodstream.
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. It seems like Ms. Poggiali believed she had the right to do away with inconvenient or difficult patients.
Unfortunately, similar ideology to that of Ms. Poggiali is not unheard of in the medical community. Take, for example, infamous bioethics professor, Peter Singer, who believes medical professionals should be permitted to lethally inject Alzheimer’s “non-persons”, even if they never asked to be killed.
As Bobby Schindler, the brother of Terri Schiavo, explains in his 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.
Schindler writes, “Tragically, too many of us today have become disconnected and desensitized to our own dignity and intrinsic worth. It seems we no longer know how to love, and we place more significance and value on what a person can or cannot do, instead of understanding the value and dignity of the human person, simply because they are human.”
While some prejudices might seem “kinder” than Ms. Poggiali’s reasoning, they all lead down the same path; killing people because they are inconvenient or unwanted.