A Brazilian doctor was charged with killing seven patients to free up some space in a hospital, CNN reported Thursday.
Virginia Helena Soares de Souza killed seven, and may have been responsible for up to 300 deaths according to a Health Ministry Investigator, New York Daily News said.
De Souza was arrested and charged last month on seven separate counts of aggravated first-degree murder, New York Daily News said.
De Souza allegedly recruited other doctors to administer lethal doses of anesthetics, sedatives and painkillers. Seven of her associates have been charged in the case as well, CNN said.
De Souza did not prescribe the drugs herself, but ordered other doctors to alter mechanical ventilation devices or increase prescriptions--such as muscle relaxants--to a lethal level. Most patients would die from asphyxiation, CNN reported and New York Daily News said.
New York Daily News said that in some cases, De Souza wasn't even in the hospital, and gave instructions over the phone on how to end a patient's life.
Investigations will continue, and new cases are expected to emerge upon further exploration of medical records of patients who have died in the past seven years at the hospital where De Souza was the head of the intensive care unit, New York Daily News said.
New York Daily News added that if prosecutors are able to prove that De Souza killed 300 patients, it could be one of the world's worst serial killings, resembling Harold Shipman's case. Shipman was the English doctor who has charged with killing 215 patients.