SCMP Saturday, January 6, 2001

Killer doctor linked to 300 more deaths


A British doctor convicted of killing 15 patients may have been responsible for up to 300 more deaths.
Dr Harold Shipman, a general practitioner in Hyde, near Manchester, was convicted last February of killing 15 elderly women with heroin injections. He was given 15 life sentences.
But a review of Shipman's clinical records, carried out by Professor Richard Baker, found he had 297 more deaths over a 24-year period than similar practices in the area. Professor Baker said 236 of those deaths occurred at the patients' homes, causing the greatest suspicion.
Most of those deaths tended to be of women over the age of 75, according to the audit, which examined trends and patterns in the 521 deaths certified by Shipman. His patients tended to die at particular times of the day, quicker than would normally be expected and when he was alone with them, the report found.
"It is horrific and inexplicable that this scale of activity was not detected earlier," said Liam Donaldson, chief medical officer for the Government, which ordered the report.
Shipman, who denied murder, was accused at his trial of killing because he enjoyed "exercising the ultimate power of controlling life and death."
The figures place Shipman just behind recent history's most prolific serial killer, Colombian Pedro Armando Lopez. Lopez was suspected of killing 300 girls in Colombia, Peru and Ecuador. He was convicted of 57 murders in 1980.
Shipman, dubbed "Doctor Death" by the media, is unlikely to face a new trial, however. The Government decided last year that further trials would not be in the public interest.