A German doctor has been jailed for administering a lethal dose of potassium chloride to a terminally-ill COVID-19 patient.
Dr Andreas B., 45, who worked as a senior physician at the Essen University Hospital, was sentenced to three years and six months in prison by the regional court in the city of Essen in the western German region of North Rhine-Westphalia on Wednesday.
The anaesthetist was found guilty of manslaughter for the death of a male, terminally-ill COVID-19 patient from the Netherlands in November 2020.
He administered a lethal dose of potassium chloride in the last moments of the middle-aged man’s life, which caused his immediate death.
According to the German daily Bild, the COVID-19 patient had underlying conditions, and his relatives were informed beforehand so they could say goodbye.
After his arrest on 18th November 2020, the doctor reportedly told officers that he wanted to end the suffering of the patients and their relatives.
In November, hospital colleagues were shocked to hear about the police investigation, which included at least two victims at the time.
One colleague said: “He was a very level-headed and pleasant workmate, we are all completely stunned and shocked. Apparently, the suffering of COVID-19 patients overwhelmed him. He probably thought he was doing something good.”
Another hospital colleague said of the doctor, who had been working at the hospital since February: “He was very competent, despite his short time at the clinic, he was very respected and popular.”
During the trial, the defendant told the court: “We could not do anything more (for the patient).”
However, Judge Jorg Schmitt saw it differently, telling the defendant: “You lied to his relatives when you told them his death was imminent.”
The ruling is not yet legally binding and the defendant may still appeal. It is currently unclear if the defendant faces additional charges pertaining to other patients.