Convicted German Nurse May Have Killed at Least 86 Patients

Megan Brooks

August 30, 2017

Niels Högel, a former German nurse serving a life sentence for killing two of his patients, is now believed to have murdered at least 84 other patients in his care, according to media reports.

"The realization of what we were able to learn is horrifying," Johan Kühme, chief of police in Oldenburg, Germany, told The New York Times. "It defies any scope of the imagination."

Högel was sentenced to life in prison in February 2015 after confessing to the two murders, and a court in Oldenburg found him guilty of the crimes.

A picture taken December 19, 2014, shows former nurse Niels Högel in handcuffs, covering his face with a folder next to a clerk and his lawyer. (Source: AFP/Getty Images)

In court, he admitted to intentionally inducing cardiac arrest in dozens of patients by administering lethal injections of heart medication, including sotalol, lidocaine, amiodarone, and calcium chloride.

He said he liked trying to revive the patients, but sometimes failed, the Times reported. It appears Högel chose his victims at random.

His court confession prompted authorities to investigate other patients who had died while in Högel's care at clinics in Delmenhorst and Oldenburg. They combed through more than 500 patient files and performed toxicology tests on the remains of 134 possible victims who were exhumed. Toxicology reports for 41 of these cases are pending. The exact number of patients Högel murdered may never be known, as some of his former patients were cremated.

"The death toll is unique in the history of the German republic," the chief police investigator, Arne Schmidt, said, according to The Guardian, noting that there was "evidence for at least 90 murders, and at least as many [suspected] cases again that can no longer be proven."

There is also evidence that coworkers of Högel's who became suspicious failed to say anything about it.

"Six employees of the Delmenhorst clinic have been charged with manslaughter through failure to render assistance, while an investigation into neglect at the Oldenburg hospital is continuing," The Guardian reported.

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