Brazilian doctor 'may have killed up to 300 patients'

Doctor Virginia Soares de Souza (L) walks with her lawyer as they leave the police station in Curitiba. Credit: Reuters

A Brazilian doctor charged with killing seven patients to free up beds at a hospital intensive care unit may have been responsible for up to 300 deaths, according to a health ministry investigator.

Prosecutors claim Dr Virginia Soares de Souza and her medical team administered muscle relaxing drugs to patients, then reduced their oxygen supply, causing them to die of asphyxia at the Evangelical Hospital in the southern city of Curitiba.

Three other doctors, three nurses and a physiotherapist who worked under De Souza have also been charged with murder.

Investigators are now combing through 1,700 medical records of patients who died in the last seven years at the hospital, where De Souza headed the intensive care unit.

The chief investigator assigned by Brazil's Health Ministry, Dr Mario Lobato, told Globo TV's Fantastico program: "We already have more than 20 cases established, and there are nearly 300 more that we are looking into."

De Souza's lawyer, Elias Mattar Assad, said there was no proof of murder and she would prove her innocence.