“Primum non nocere” is a Latin phrase which means “First, do no harm,” and it is the foundation on which medicine is based. However, throughout history, there have been several cases where medical professionals used the profession’s social status and easy access to drugs to perform heinous acts of cruelty against their patients. These “angels of death” took lives when they were supposed to be saving them. We have gathered the horrifying information on some of the most evil doctors and nurses in history.
CAUTION: Some of the stories mentioned here might be too graphic for some readers. In such cases, please feel free to browse through our gallery to discover articles that suit your desire.
1. Josef Mengele: The “Angel of Death”.
During the Second World War, Dr. Josef Mengele was an SS Physician at the Nazi concentration camp in Auschwitz. As Jewish prisoners were lead off the trains into the camp, Dr. Mengele would stand in his white coat with his arms outstretched, earning him the nickname “Angel of Death.” His job was to examine each person to see if he or she was healthy enough to enter the forced labor camp or not. Those deemed unfit to work were immediately lead to the gas chambers. His passion, however, was performing forced medical experiments on the prisoners; especially on twins and children.
Mengele operated on people without using anesthesia, often removing their organs, amputating limbs, injecting dyes into eyeballs (in an attempt to change the eye color) and sewing twins together to form monstrous conjoined siblings. After the war, Mengele fled to South America, where he lived until his death in 1979. He was never captured and brought to justice.
2. Thomas Neill Cream: The “Lambeth Poisoner”.
Thomas Neill Cream was a Scottish-Canadian doctor known as the “Lambeth Poisoner.” During the 1890’s, while working in Chicago, Cream used poison to kill a vast majority of his patients. He was caught and convicted of poisoning a woman and given life in prison, however, Cream’s brother was able to bribe the governor of Illinois and let Cream walk free. After the dismissal of his case, he traveled to London. There, he poisoned and killed five women who worked the nights, before he was arrested and executed in 1892.
3. Joseph Michael Swango.
American doctor Michael Swango was a man who was handsome and congenital in nature, however, the signs of his inner mental instability were noticeable to his colleagues, even while he was attending medical school. One of the most obvious occurence was when he was working on a scrapbook containing images of horrific, bloody disasters during class. After becoming an intern in 1983, Swango’s patients started quietly dying after he had been in the room with him.
Swango continued to practice medicine without reproach and later moved to Illinois where he started poisoning his co-workers with ant poison. His co-workers grew suspicious and set a trap for Swango. They left him alone in a room with a pitcher of iced tea. They then had the tea tested in a lab, where they found that Swango had indeed put ant poison in it. After poisoning more patients in Africa, Swango skipped out of the ensuing scandal and hid in Europe for several years. He was arrested and sentenced to life in prison without parole in 1997, when he finally tried to re-enter the United States.
4. John Bodkin Adams.
The British doctor may have been responsible for the death of over one hundred and sixty of his patients. Dr. Adams was a general practitioner who was especially friendly towards his elderly female patients. He was cunning enough to have them rewrite their wills and include him in it. One hundred and thirty-two of these patients added Dr. Adams to their wills just before they mysteriously passed away.
He was never found guilty of murder or other professional negligence, leading some people to wonder if Dr. Adams was helping his patients euthanize themselves. However, a later trial took place for thirteen additional offenses; including prescription fraud, lying on cremation forms, obstructing a police search and so on. He was acquitted on all murder charges.
5. Jane Toppan.
While working as a nurse in Massachusetts in the 1880’s, Jane Toppan would give her elderly and infirm patients lethal doses of morphine and atropine. What makes her story creepier than the rest is the fact that she would crawl into their beds to lie with them as they died. According to reports, Toppan killed at least 31 victims before she was caught and committed to an asylum for the rest of her life.