Dr. Michael Swango

It is worth noting that a doctor might be the most prolific serial killer this country ever has known. And that he never has been convicted for any of his murders. Probably because he is a doctor. Did you ever try to report a crime in medicine? Usually even the victims cannot get the police to let them file charges let alone do anything about it.

At Ohio State University Medical Center he was observed injecting something into a patient who immediately suffered paralysis and nearly died. He was cleared in a cursory investigation in which evidence was destroyed and patient testimony mischaracterized. That's normal in medicine (see Cullen and other examples).

License to Kill

At Southern Illinois University School of Medicine his peers joked that he seemed to have a license to kill, like double oh seven, and nicknamed him "Double Oh Swango" because many patients on whom he had just collected histories suddenly became acutely ill, some even dying.

When medical students, nurses, patients, and paramedics tried to alert in-house authorities, the complaints were written off as jealousy or unfounded gossip.

Part of the problem is his apparent lack of motive. In medical circles when patient safety comes up, one repeatedly hears it said that a doctor would have no motivation to injure a patient. And these are the people with whom complaints are to be filed?

The title of James B. Stewart's book about him explains the root problem: Book about Swango"Blind Eye: How the Medical Establishment Let a Doctor Get Away With Murder." Another book reveals that caregivers as a rule protect what they call Hodads (linkes to a page on this site about that). The profession as a whole denies that they protect serial killers too, but they do.

White Wall of Silence

Dennis Cashman, the judge on one of Swango's trials, said, "There is an unwritten rule in the medical profession. Inept doctors do not get reported."

In medicine it is routine to circle the wagon's on patient safety issues, protecting problem operators at the expense of patients. Healthcare professionals do not believe that this is what they are doing. That's why they perpetrate it. Witness the behavior of state medical boards (see OSMB).

Patients need advocates with a different view of the world than caregivers have. They need advocates who actually are on their side. One of them should be a state patients board.

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When even murders are protected by the culture of secrecy
what hope is there for reporting errors?