Morphine doc freed

12th March 2004, Comments 0 comments

12 March 2004 , HANOVER - A hospital specialist linked to possibly hundreds of morphine deaths was freed on about EUR 50,000 bail Thursday amidst fresh revelations about her alleged "death cocktail" injections for patients. Dr Mechthild Bach, long-time head of a pain clinic at Hanover's Paracelsus Hospital, was released pending further investigation into manslaughter charges against her in connection with at least eight deaths at the pain clinic she headed at Hanover's prestigious Paracelsus Hospital. Germ

12 March 2004

HANOVER - A hospital specialist linked to possibly hundreds of morphine deaths was freed on about EUR 50,000 bail Thursday amidst fresh revelations about her alleged "death cocktail" injections for patients.

Dr Mechthild Bach, long-time head of a pain clinic at Hanover's Paracelsus Hospital, was released pending further investigation into manslaughter charges against her in connection with at least eight deaths at the pain clinic she headed at Hanover's prestigious Paracelsus Hospital.

German authorities have meanwhile confirmed they are investigating a number of further suspicious deaths connected to the physician.

Thomas Klinge, spokesman for the prosecutor's office in Hanover, said they were looking into the cases of five more patients treated by Bach which relatives had come to regard as suspicious.

Bach, 54, reportedly administered "death cocktail" injections of 10 milligrams of morphine four times daily along with 10 ampules of 10 milligrams of valium to her patients, most of them terminally ill with cancer.

But many of her patients "could have lived for years with a relatively good standard of life", according to findings of a forensics expert obtained by Germany's Focus news magazine.

"Dr Bach apparently decided unilaterally on a course of terminal sedation," the forensics expert was quoted as saying.

In one case, a 79-year-old man was admitted to her clinic on the evening of 28 May 2003, and talked and joked with nursing staff and family members.

"He was full of life and was optimistic about chances his cancer would go into remission," the patient's son later told police.

But Dr. Bach took him off his cancer drugs and administered her "death cocktail".

The patient died overnight.

"Taking him off his medication and putting him on high doses of morphium and Diazepam (Valium) were carried out without knowledge or approval of the patient or his family," said pain specialist Michael Zenz, who investigated the case for police, according to Focus.

Investigators in Hanover are examining the records of 76 clinic patients who died under unusual circumstances, but unconfirmed reports of further deaths dating back to the early 1980s have ignited speculation that the final toll may run into the hundreds or even thousands.

Der Spiegel news magazine said Bach could be linked to 251 patient deaths between January 2000 and last July, and to as many as 1,500 deaths since 1982.

The magazine has referred to the investigation as "one of the biggest criminal probes" in German post-war history.

Meanwhile, Bach has gone on national television to deny any wrongdoing, but told interviewers she would go to great lengths to alleviate her patients' suffering.

"It is wholly false to say that what I am involved in doing is helping people to die. I see myself as helping people in the process of dying," she said.

Health insurance companies alerted authorities after noting an alarming death rate among patients under Bach's care.

DPA

Subject: German news

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