Morphine doc ‘only wanted to ease pain’
2 March 2004
BERLIN – A lawyer for a hospital pain specialist linked to possibly hundreds of morphine deaths Monday said her client only wanted to ease the suffering of her patients.
Dr Mechthild Bach, head of a pain clinic at Hanover’s Paracelsus Hospital, was concerned with easing the dying process for her terminally ill patients – not in actually killing them, her lawyer said.
“She never wanted to kill her patients, but rather only wanted to ease their pain and suffering,” said Bach’s attorney, Klaus Ulsenheimer.
“This could be construed as assisting in the dying process, or assisting dying people, which is not punishable,” he said. “But it cannot be construed as actually terminating people’s lives.”
German authorities have meanwhile confirmed they are investigating a number of further suspicious deaths connected to the physician, who is in custody on manslaughter charges.
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, is in custody in connection with the deaths of eight patients under her care at a pain clinic at the Paracelsus Hospital in suburban Hanover. The patients are believed to have been administered high doses of morphine.
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.
Subject: German news