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Brazil doctor suspected of murdering patients

Doctor charged with killing seven terminally ill patients will also be investigated for deaths of 300 other patients.

Last Modified: 28 Mar 2013 12:37
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Virginia Soares De Souza arrested for allegedly administering fatal doses of a muscle relaxant [Reuters]

The Brazilian health ministry has begun a review of the medical records of 300 patients treated by a doctor suspected of killing seven terminally ill patients.

Prosecutors on Wednesday claimed Virginia Soares de Souza and her medical team administered muscle relaxing drugs to patients, then reduced their oxygen supply, causing them to die of asphyxia at the Evangelical Hospital.

"If the judge backs up her right to respond [to the charges] in liberty, I believe that his position will not change, providing that there is no new evidence that disadvantages the accused," Elias Mattar Assad, De Souza's lawyer said.

Investigators are combing through 1,700 medical records of patients who died in the last seven years at the hospital, where De Souza headed the intensive care unit.

It is believed the deaths were a bid by the doctor and her staff to free up beds at the Curitiba hospital's intensive care wing.

De Souza denies the charges. Her lawyer said investigators had misunderstood how an intensive care unit works and she would prove her innocence.

The 56-year-old widow was arrested in February and charged with seven counts of aggravated first degree murder.

Another three doctors, three nurses and a physiotherapist who worked under De Souza have also been
charged with murder.

De Souza was released on bail last week pending the outcome of the investigation.

The press officer says the Health Ministry is reviewing the medical records of 300 other patients that were under De Souza's care.

She did not provide details and did not say if they had died.

The press officer declined to be identified because she was not authorised to comment on the case.

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