A French doctor is accused of poisoning two dozen surgery patients—nine of whom died—in order to make himself look good. Anesthesiologist Frederic Pechier, charged in seven poisonings in 2017, is now suspected in 17 new cases in which patients at two private clinics in Besançon went into cardiac arrest during minor operations. Following a two-year investigation, police claim the 47-year-old father of three tampered with medical equipment so colleagues would administer dangerous levels of anesthetic or potassium to patients—including a 4-year-old boy having his tonsils removed—with the goal of appearing to be a hero in reviving them, reports CNN and the Guardian.
"There is a possibility that Dr. Pechier committed those poisonings, but this hypothesis is nothing but a hypothesis," his lawyer says, per the BBC. However, prosecutor Etienne Manteaux says Pechier was "the common denominator" in the cases, and was "most often found close to the operating room" when a patient had trouble. What's more, he would quickly decide how to act, "even when nothing allowed anyone to suspect an overdose of potassium or local anesthesia," Manteaux says. While the 4-year-old was successfully revived by Pechier, investigators say blood tests on two patients who died as a result of the alleged scheme later showed potassium levels at five times the lethal dose, reports the Telegraph. Bodies of other patients were then exhumed for similar tests. (Read more poisoning stories.)