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Nurse in Germany Convicted of Killing Patients

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A nurse in Germany was convicted of killing 85 people who had been in his care. This article summarizes the story and examines ways we can avoid staying silent when we need to speak out.

Nurse in Germany Convicted of Killing Patients

The facts are startling:

- Nurse Neils Hogel was convicted of killing 85 people in his care.

- He was sentenced to life in prison (the maximum sentence).

- He killed patients in three different facilities.

- He is the most prolific serial killer in peacetime Germany.

- The judge called his crimes “incomprehensible.”

- Fellow employees are also being charged with negligent homicide.

Rumors

Wherever Hogel worked, the rumors followed. His patients died after he injected them with a variety of drugs to provoke a heart attack. He said he intentionally brought about cardiac crises in some 90 patients in Delmenhorst because he “enjoyed the feeling of being able to resuscitate them.” Reportedly, he would administer life-threatening drugs and then come back to the bedside to heroically attempt to resuscitate his victims, tragically earning the name “Resuscitation Rambo” for his efforts and even proudly wearing a misguided necklace of empty IV tubes that was given him as a reward.

Desire for Attention

After being transferred to an anesthesiology unit, a doctor noticed the perpetrator’s attempts to push himself into the spotlight during resuscitation efforts and told him his services were no longer needed. Others noticed his involvement in a large number of cases where the patient arrested and/or died but did not follow up.

Convicted & Sentenced

Hogel was convicted in 2015 and currently serves a life sentence and the prosecution continues to pursue additional cases against him with new convictions this month.

Susanna K., one of those who worked with him said, “In the beginning, you just think it’s fate. But at some point, you grow distrustful.” In the trial, she went on to say that she and her colleagues talked about the events and their suspicions but did not go forward with a more formal complaint. In a country that highly values privacy, they didn’t see it as their business. 

Failure to Report

In addition to Hogel, investigations are in the process against six fellow employees in one of the hospitals where he worked. The defendants are accused of negligent manslaughter because, despite their suspicions, they failed to follow up and report what they saw. He went to several facilities and help a variety of positions until he was finally apprehended and stopped.

Breaking the Silence

In the end, it took a nurse to break the “Code of Silence” that made all these murders possible. Frank Lauxtermann, a former colleague of Mr. Högel’s, was the first nurse to break the silence. In Germany, privacy is highly valued and despite suspicions, many felt it was not their responsibility and that they might be reprimanded for reporting their suspicions without absolute proof.

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Frank Lauxtermann, nurse,  and the first person to break the silence

In the United States, being a whistle-blower is also a risky endeavor, one that takes great courage and often involves personal sacrifice. Many industry whistle-blowers end up losing their jobs and do not have their efforts rewarded in the workplace. “The study of 25 workers who revealed wrongdoing in their organizations such as banks and healthcare found that whistleblowers lost their job either by being pressured out of the organization or being dismissed. At this time, eight doctors or nurses face charges of perjury for their part in lying to cover up the lack of follow-through that made the mass murders possible.

Families of the Victims

Family members of the dead, continue to struggle and ask questions as the process of prosecution unfolds over a timeline of years. The murders started in the late 90’s. The first arrest was in 2006. Several trials have happened since then as the cases grow. Meanwhile, families suffer pain, grief, and loss. Christian Marbach, whose grandfather was a victim, asked: “If it is possible that in Germany more than 300 deaths over 15 years can be swept under the carpet, what else is possible?”

What could possibly motivate someone to do such evil? Dr. Karl-Heinz Beine, a psychiatrist in Germany, examined the perpetrator and said he appeared to be “driven by narcissism and a need to fill a deep lack of self-worth.” In court, even during current proceedings, observers report a remarkable lack of empathy for the victims or their families. Beine went on to say that he hoped this trial would raise awareness of the need for healthcare professionals to report suspicious behavior and to follow-up.

Now 40, Hogel is incarcerated but according to Arne Schmidt, the detective who leads the Oldenburg police investigation into the killings, “I personally am convinced that the defendant continues to live out his narcissism today.”

What Can We Learn From This?

What can we learn from the horrific events in Germany as they continue to unfold? Many questions remain, but we have to search out ways that we can avoid the same outcome. What happened in Germany can happen again here or elsewhere. It is our duty as professional nurses to protect our patients to be alert and willing to take prompt and measured action. If we see something, let’s say something.

Joy is a Faith Community Nurse who enjoys writing and has published a children's book and a couple of Bible studies. She also maintains a blog: joyeastridge@wordpress.com. In her spare time she enjoys cooking for crowds and playing with her grandchildren.

5 Followers; 93 Articles; 147,017 Visitors; 390 Posts

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tnbutterfly is a BSN, RN and specializes in Peds, Med-Surg, Disaster Nsg, Parish Nsg.

13 Followers; 117 Articles; 194,204 Visitors; 5,341 Posts

Unbelievable.  It is surprising what some people do to get attention. 

In the news reports, they refer to him as "Resuscitation Rambo".

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HH_RN13 has 7 years experience as a ASN, RN and specializes in Home health.

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The world is just a scary place. Not sure if anyone has heard of Kristen Gilbert, RN who is now serving multiple life sentences convicted of 3 murders while working at a VA hospital, but believed to have killed around 90 patients and caused around 300 cardiac arrests. Sounds just like this guy, she enjoyed resuscitating people. I don’t blame families watching their loved ones in the hospital every minute and questioning things. After seeing stories like this, I wouldn’t trust anyone either.  

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5 Followers; 93 Articles; 147,017 Visitors; 390 Posts

21 hours ago, HH_RN13 said:

The world is just a scary place. Not sure if anyone has heard of Kristen Gilbert, RN who is now serving multiple life sentences convicted of 3 murders while working at a VA hospital, but believed to have killed around 90 patients and caused around 300 cardiac arrests. Sounds just like this guy, she enjoyed resuscitating people. I don’t blame families watching their loved ones in the hospital every minute and questioning things. After seeing stories like this, I wouldn’t trust anyone either.  

The truly evil people are few and far between but they often leave devastation in their wake. 

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21 hours ago, jeastridge said:

The truly evil people are few and far between but they often leave devastation in their wake. 

Untrue. Exhibits 1-10 are my ex, his mother, and quite a few family members.

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tnbutterfly is a BSN, RN and specializes in Peds, Med-Surg, Disaster Nsg, Parish Nsg.

13 Followers; 117 Articles; 194,204 Visitors; 5,341 Posts

21 hours ago, jeastridge said:

The truly evil people are few and far between but they often leave devastation in their wake. 

Those who senselessly take many innocent lives are truly evil.

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Cheyenne RN,BSHS has 35 years experience and specializes in Med Surg, ICU, Infection, Home Health, and LTC.

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"In a country that highly values privacy, they didn’t see it as their business."

My jaw dropped reading that line in the article. I was raised in Germany in the 50's and 60's. It was that very attitude that closed the German peoples eyes and allowed the atrocities that occurred in WW2. It is that attitude that allows people to get killed here in the U.S.A. People don't want to get involved.

That might be okay to a point but I imagine this whistleblower nurse has suffered more than we can imagine. They are the hero here, stopping this murderer by exposing him.

But I still drop my jaw thinking that surely if anyone learned anything in WW2 it should be Europe. Please everyone, it could be your life or loved one next time.  "If you see something, say something."

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5 Followers; 93 Articles; 147,017 Visitors; 390 Posts

5 hours ago, Cheyenne RN,BSHS said:

"In a country that highly values privacy, they didn’t see it as their business."

My jaw dropped reading that line in the article. I was raised in Germany in the 50's and 60's. It was that very attitude that closed the German peoples eyes and allowed the atrocities that occurred in WW2. It is that attitude that allows people to get killed here in the U.S.A. People don't want to get involved.

That might be okay to a point but I imagine this whistleblower nurse has suffered more than we can imagine. They are the hero here, stopping this murderer by exposing him.

But I still drop my jaw thinking that surely if anyone learned anything in WW2 it should be Europe. Please everyone, it could be your life or loved one next time.  "If you see something, say something."

I do hope that we learn from history. And I hope that we see stories like this one as warning and a guide. 

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When I left a job at a VA in Massachusetts, I was replaced by nurse who went on to steal lives for thrills and totally destroy my old unit and ex-coworkers. I've always have had this regret, oh if I had never left. :(

https://murderpedia.org/female.G/g/gilbert-kristen.htm

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You'd think somebody would've noticed after the first 90 or so.

I've been an ER nurse for 20 years, work as much as 80 hours a week, and I've lost exactly 4 patients and all were DNR. Dude was busy.

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5 Followers; 93 Articles; 147,017 Visitors; 390 Posts

3 hours ago, Joey20 said:

When I left a job at a VA in Massachusetts, I was replaced by nurse who went on to steal lives for thrills and totally destroy my old unit and ex-coworkers. I've always have had this regret, oh if I had never left. :(

https://murderpedia.org/female.G/g/gilbert-kristen.htm

So sad. I'm sorry for what happened to you. 

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5 Followers; 93 Articles; 147,017 Visitors; 390 Posts

2 hours ago, floydnightingale said:

You'd think somebody would've noticed after the first 90 or so.

I've been an ER nurse for 20 years, work as much as 80 hours a week, and I've lost exactly 4 patients and all were DNR. Dude was busy.

I know...there is that sick, sad feeling for the people that saw it and suspected something was going on but didn't say anything...

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