Monday, August 22, 2016

Dr. Virginia Helena Soares de Souza, Accused Serial Killer Physician – Brazil, 2013


This case is still ongoing as of July 2016.

Dr. Virginia Helena Soares de Souza, director of the Intensive Care Unit at Hospital Evangélico in Curitiba, Brazil, is charged with conspiracy in causing the deaths of as many as 320 patients by ordering them to be injected with Pancuronium, a muscle relaxant, and in other cases victims were administered lethal doses of anesthetics, sedatives and painkillers, or were asphyxiated through having their oxygen cut off.

The Evangelical is the largest private hospital in the state of Parana, is a private philanthropic institution, but many of its patients are treated under Brazil’s Unified Health System.

Though the patients were under intensive care, many were fully conscious at the time de Souza ordered them terminated, according to prosecutors. Dr. Mario Lobato, was appointed chief investigator assigned by Brazil’s Health Ministry. Lobato reported that “One was awake, being sedated but not even connected to a respirator. This patient had asked his family to bring his glasses so he could do some reading while he was in the intensive care ward.” In another case the victim had requested a cup of water. “This nurse testified that one of the things she will never forget is that she didn’t manage to give him the cup of water because by the time she returned he had already died.” Said Lobato.

Police believe de Souza selected poor patients assigned to the hospital by the Unified Health System in order to free beds for patients with private insurance or cash.

De Souza was arrested on February 19, 2013 along with seven of her staff, three physicians under her supervision, three nurses and a physiotherapist. A search warrant was served and hospital records were confiscated. The charges involved seven recent deaths.

Prosecutors describe de Souza as exercising an “all powerful” rule over the hospital’s intensive ward. Phone taps produced recordings of de Souza instructing staff to end the life of patients. An undercover officer investigated reports of suspicious deaths and recorded her communications with staff. De Souza is recorded saying: “I want to clear the intensive care unit. It’s making me itch.”

Previous to the 2013 serial murder scandal the hospital was embroiled in controversy over financial problems stemming from the charity that funds the hospital, Evangelical Beneficent Society of Curitiba. Labor strikes were common and one took place the week before the police raid that snatched up de Souza and crew.

In June 2013 de Souza was interviewed on television, stating: “I never shortened the life of anyone. I just practiced medicine exactly as it should be practiced.”

[Robert St. Estephe]

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1959 – Evangelical opened, largest private hospital of Paraná.
1988 – began practicing medicine.
2006 – 2013 – pariod of suspected murders, up to 320, at Hospital Evangélico, Curitiba, Brazil; Method: Pancuronium (trademark Pavulon), muscle relaxant.
Feb. 19, 2013 – De Souza, 56, arrested. Three other doctors, three nurses and a physiotherapist who worked under De Souza have also been charged with murder.
Mar. 24, 2013 – Dr. Mario Lobato, Globo TV interview. Dr. Mario Lobato, chief investigator assigned by Brazil’s Health Ministry
Jun. 2013 – de Souza interviewed, TV show Fantastico.
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[“Polícia prende diretora de UTI suspeita de praticar eutanásia em hospital de Curitiba,” UOL (Brazil), Feb. 19, 2013]
[Anthony Boadle, Reuters, “Brazilian doctor may be linked to 300 deaths, investigators,” Toronto Sun (Canada), Mar. 28, 2013]
[“Novo laudo aponta que dra Virgínia foi responsável por antecipar mortes em UTI do Evangélico,” Banda B (Brasil), Jul. 13, 2016]
[Fabio Buchmann, “MP questiona perícia feita em prontuários sobre mortes na UTI do Evangélico,” radiocbncuritiba, Feb. 2, 2016]
[Matt Roper, “Is this the most prolific serial killer of all time? Brazilian doctor accused of killing 20 terminally ill patients and ‘could be responsible for 300 more deaths’,” Daily Mail (England),
[“Dr. Virginia Helena Soares de Souza 2013 (Brazil), CrimesCentral.com, Aug. 26, 2014]
[‘Serial killer’ probe tarnishes Brazilian hospital,” BBC (England), Feb. 20. 2014]

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de Souza, Dr. Virginia Helena Soares

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