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Dutch nurse released from prison

Lucia de Berk, a Dutch pediatric nurse who was sentenced to life in prison for murdering seven patients under her care, was recently released from prison and cleared of all charges.

Suscipion was cast on de Berk in 2001 after an infant girl died unexpectedly while under her care.  A review of past deaths and resuscitation attempts revealed what some considered to be an unusual, if not impossible, number of deaths on de Berk’s watch.  She was sentenced to life in prison in 2003 after an expert testified that there was only a 1 in 342 million chance of so many suspicious deaths occuring during the shift of one particular nurse.

De Berk, however, maintained her innocence throughout her six years of imprisonment.  A group rallied to her defense, citing statistical errors, imcomplete data and flawed assumptions. 

After a complete review of the case, de Berk was released from prison earlier this month.  The Dutch Attorey General officially apologized to de Berk, who still holds a nursing license but can’t imagine returning to practice.  “I couldn’t go back to a hospital,” de Berk told London’s Globe and Mail.  “Even if somebody coughs I’d be in a panic.”   

Do you ever worry about possible legal repercussions for doing your job?


Jennifer Fink, RN, BSN

Jennifer is a professional freelance writer with over eight years experience as a hospital nurse. She has clinical experience in adult health, including med-surg, geriatrics and transplant; she also has a particular interest in women’s health and cancer care. Jennifer has written a variety of health and parenting articles for national publications.

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