No, Mr.Bond,
January 6, 2001 3:10 PM   Subscribe

No, Mr.Bond, you die. Dr. Death? How are hospitals run in england? 297 patients!
posted by tiaka (13 comments total)
Here's another article about him which goes into more detail.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 3:54 PM on January 6, 2001

Hmm strange coincidence - Hyde, England?
posted by tiaka at 3:58 PM on January 6, 2001

One doctor. A GP in a one-doctor practice, not a hospital doctor. Who gave opiates to elderly patients, to ensure that it was almost impossible to trace until he started getting sloppy.

It's atrocious. It's a horror. It raises questions about the ability of the GMC to regulate itself. But it's one doctor. And we trust doctors, in general: after all, you'd think that after six years training, and the time it takes to graduate from hospital work to general practice, that a doctor would have the proper duty of care.

But, we can't rely on that now: so, the Government is to set up a supervisory authority to check up on doctors (big government, tiaka: the horror!) to ensure it never happens again. There but for the grace of God goes any nation. And if anything, it reflects the fact that the NHS has made us more respectful, and less litigious, towards our doctors.
posted by holgate at 4:03 PM on January 6, 2001

Thanks, Steven: the LA Times piece says things more eloquently than I ever could.
posted by holgate at 4:07 PM on January 6, 2001

I vote for a new Metafilter rule. No news stories off the front page of Yahoo.
posted by waxpancake at 4:57 PM on January 6, 2001

Some of the problem is that everyone tends to treat doctors like demigods, and one does not lightly question the behavior of deities. This tends to go to the heads of some doctors, who begin to believe it themselves (although they should know better). The LA Times piece shows that, with that taxi driver who kept track of the killings for years but was afraid to complain about it.

Doctors need to be brought down off their pedestals, I'm afraid; they're professionals, but no more so than any other kind of professional. I personally don't take any doctor's word for anything; I always try to research what they say and I'm willing to argue with them and to refuse treatment and suggest others in some cases if I think the doctor is wrong. It's my body and my life and I'm going to be involved in decisions -- or find another doctor who's more reasonable.

More people need that attitude IMHO.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 5:22 PM on January 6, 2001

The Obs's take: "He offers us no glimpse into ourselves. He will not become a symbol of anything; his story spreads few ripples. His voice is dry, neutral. His face is blank. His eyes are polite and empty. His lips are closed. His heart is a mystery."
posted by holgate at 5:35 PM on January 6, 2001

holgate, I don't think this should be seen as an attack on the NHS. Just an observation that some UK doctors are serial-killers. Please, don't read into it anything more than that.
posted by lagado at 10:05 PM on January 6, 2001

"Just an observation that some UK doctors are serial-killers"!? Erm. Possibly more appropriate to say that some doctors outstep the bounds and responsibilities of their job. I know it's not quite the same thing, but if you watch a random episode of ER you'll have a doctor doing something that you might think is morally dubious at best.

Of course it is difficult to tell to what extent the man concerned believed himself to be performing a service (euthanasia clearly) much of the time. It clearly doesn't excuse his actions, though.
posted by barbelith at 3:26 AM on January 7, 2001

lagado: I don't see it as an attack on the NHS. Except for tiaka's "How are hospitals run in England", which missed the fact that Shipman was a GP. And for the fact -- something I've mentioned before on MeFi -- that the NHS's provision generally creates an attitude where you trust your doctors to do the right thing, since they're obviously not in it for the money.

The British don't shop around for doctors, generally. They don't usually question their treatment, unless something really bad happens. (My mother was once severely overprescribed a drug: she only realised this because our next-door neighbour was a nurse.) And as Steven suggested, that's got to change. And is changing.
posted by holgate at 7:10 AM on January 7, 2001

Sorry, i didn't send the tongue-firmly-in-cheek symbol at the end of my last message.
posted by lagado at 2:11 PM on January 7, 2001

The thing everyone posting on this page needs to bear in mind about this case - and I'm paraphrasing a health professional speaking on TV today - is that Harold Shipman is a serial killer who happened to be a doctor, not an incompetent who slipped through the net. The deepest problem in this case lay with the lack of a proper checking procedure for death certificates.
posted by tobyslater at 4:22 PM on January 7, 2001

Anyone except a doctor leaving that long a trail of bodies behind him would have been investigated a lot earlier. They didn't catch him until he tried to forge a will; if he hadn't done that he'd probably still be killing old ladies. Yes, he's a serial killer who just happens to be a doctor, but the real problem is that no-one was watching the doctors.

If there's any bright side to this at all (and you have to hunt to find one) it's that he at least chose a merciful way to kill his victims. Opiate overdose is a fast and painless way of dying. (Not, of course, that this excuses anything.)
posted by Steven Den Beste at 4:57 PM on January 7, 2001

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