When a medical student in Oregon finally becomes a doctor, he or she takes an oath to uphold certain expectations regarding patient care. The doctor is to try to heal the sick, reduce suffering and do no harm. It is unthinkable that a doctor would purposely harm his patients, but a doctor in another state is facing medical malpractice claims for doing just that. In a shocking story that is continuing to unfold, that doctor is suspected of purposely ending the lives of at least 28 patients in his care.
On Oct. 25, the hospital where the doctor worked received a formal report about his patient care. Instead of being suspended, he continued to work at the hospital, seeing patients and directing their treatments. In November he was removed from patient care, and he was officially fired Dec. 5. The reason for his suspension was the discovery that the doctor had purposely been ending the lives of patients he felt would not survive their medical conditions.
According to reports, the doctor regularly spoke with the family of very sick patients and expressed a need for an order that would prevent the medical staff from providing resuscitative efforts should the patients’ conditions worsen. He recommended providing only comfort care measures for the patient. Soon after the DNR orders were given, the doctor ordered excessively large doses of as much as 1000 micrograms of fentanyl, after which the patient would soon die.
There are currently 34 cases where the doctor prescribed excessive pain medication. All of those patients died, but there is question as to whether the overdose was the actual cause of death for six of them. Three of the deaths occurred during the three weeks that followed the hospital’s receipt of the complaint but before the facility suspended his duties. Reportedly, 23 other members of the hospital’s medical staff have now been suspended for their roles in the tragedies.
Civil claims have begun to be filed against the doctor. At this time nine families have filed claims against him, citing his medical malpractice as the reason for their loved ones’ wrongful deaths. With the help of a knowledgeable attorney, victims of medical malpractice or their surviving families in Oregon or other states can seek financial compensation for the damages they suffered at the hands of trusted medical professionals.