Black heart heroism

needleIn April 1987, Richard Angelo wandered the halls of Good Samaritan Hospital.  Overall, Angelo appeared benign.

He would – like most nurses – pass medications, chart, and occasionally act as Charge Nurse.  And – like most nurses – hastily respond to medical emergencies, pump chests, and save lives.

In most cases, Angelo succeeded; he always seemed to be in the right place at the right time, gaining notoriety for his heroically brisk action. However, unlike most nurses, Angelo had a habit of poisoning his patients with Pavulon, a muscle relaxer used in carrying out executions by lethal injection.

In October 1987, Angelo – eager to save another life – pushed a little Pavulon.  This time, however, Angelo’s luck ran out; he got careless and got caught.

Unbeknownst to Angelo, the patient was awake, observed him administer the medication, and lived to then tell about it.

All in all, Angelo poisoned 30 people, killing six.

In a confession, Angelo admitted to poisoning patients so he could try to revive them.  In the end, he wanted to get better at his craft: saving lives.

 Lainz Angels of Death

In 1983, Maria Gruber, Irene Leidolf, Stephanija Mayer, and Waltraud Wagner worked together as nursing assistants.

They were close, working tightly together at Lainz General Hospital in Vienna, Austria.  Unlike Angelo, they didn’t kill their patients for action or notoriety, but for power.

Over six years, the Lainz Angels of Death killed an estimated 200 people.  They worked as a team, pinning patients to their bed and forcing water into their lungs.

Body Count

Just like physician serial killers, the trail of bodies following nurses, nursing assistants and orderlies is obscene.

Kristen Gilbert, a nurse, killed four.  Stephen Letter, a nurse, killed 12.  Robert Diaz, nurse, killed 38. Genene Anne Jones, a nurse, killed 46 pediatric patients.

And last, but not least, Charles Cullen, the most prolific serial killer in New Jersey state history, may have killed up to 400.

In Closing

By in large, all members of the healthcare team strive to preserve life; most of us don’t do what we do for the money, we do it because it’s our calling.

Nonetheless, we mustn’t forget the propensity for evil in our midst.  There are, unfortunately, killers amongst us, and history will repeat itself.

To read part 2 of the 3 part series click here

  • Note from Mighty Nurse – We encourage open and honest discussion of all aspects of nursing career and lifestyle. Let us know what you think about this issue, or submit your own story.

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