Tests on exhumed bodies suggest a male nurse sentenced to life in prison for killing two patients with overdoses of heart medication likely killed many more people at two German hospitals, police said Wednesday.
Oldenburg police chief Johann Kuehme said investigators found residue of a heart drug in 27 of 99 patients from a hospital in nearby Delmenhorst whose bodies were exhumed, the news agency dpa reported.
Investigators are also examining an unusually high number of patient deaths that occurred at a second hospital, in Oldenburg, where the nurse worked before.
“The horror doesn’t end,” Kuehme said at a press conference. “The investigations cannot be closed.”
A court in Oldenburg in northern Germany last year convicted the 39-year-old man, identified only as Niels H in line with German privacy rules, of murder and attempted murder.
During the trial, he had said he intentionally brought about cardiac crises in some 90 patients in Delmenhorst because he enjoyed the feeling of being able to resuscitate them. He was only convicted of two killings but he suggested more patients had died.
In addition to the killings at Delmenhorst hospital, Niels H said during a more recent interrogation by investigators that he also killed patients at a hospital in Oldenburg.
“We cannot say how many of the patients in Oldenburg were (his) victims,” prosecutor Daniela Schiereck-Bohlmann said.
In a joint statement, Oldenburg police and prosecutors said there’s “strong suspicion” that Niels H killed at least six patients at the Oldenburg hospital by injections of either heart medication or toxic doses of potassium.
Several hundred additional files of deceased patients are currently being examined to determine if there were more.
The investigation will likely not be finished before next year.
In a related probe, several managers at both hospitals are also being questioned to determine if they are somehow criminally culpable for not having noticed and reported much earlier the high number of deaths during Niels H’s shifts.