Physician Sentenced to Life for MurdersAired February 1, 2000 - 2:41 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: In Britain, the government has announced an investigation into the man that London newspapers have dubbed "Doctor Death." A court sentenced Dr. Harold Shipman to 15 life terms, one for each of the patients he killed with injections of heroin.
CNN's Margaret Lowrie says the British government wants to make sure it never happens again.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The whole country will have been shocked to hear the detail of these dreadful crimes.
MARGARET LOWRIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Britain's health secretary promised a full independent inquiry into how serial killer Dr. Harold Shipman, a family practitioner, was able to murder so many people without being detected.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He murdered each and every one of his victims by calculating and cold-blooded perversion of his medical skills.
LOWRIE: Authorities say the full extent of Shipman's crimes may never be known. Convicted of killing 15 female patients between 1995 and 1998 with lethal doses of heroin, officials say the true toll may be much higher and over a longer period: that he may have killed dozens, perhaps hundreds of patients over a 26-year career.
Police are investigating some 146 deaths so far. They reportedly have enough evidence to charge him with 23 more murders, including this man's mother.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don't really believe it could happen in this country. You don't really believe that a doctor could be a mass murderer.
LOWRIE: The case has prompted an outpouring of shock and outrage in the small town of Hyde, where Shipman practiced...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hundred and fifty people killed in this town, I mean, it's awful.
LOWRIE: ... and throughout the country.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No one's regulating what these people are doing.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All they had to do was look up on the files, in the police files, and they would have found something out.
LOWRIE: That something included the fact Shipman, by his own confession, became a drug addict not long after he became a physician. In 1976, he pleaded guilty to more than 70 counts of forging prescriptions and stealing drugs. The General Medical Council allowed him to continue practicing medicine.
By 1992, he was a solo practitioner: one reason why so many of the deaths may have gone undetected, officials believe. In Britain, only one signature is required on a death certificate.
DR. IAN BOGLE, BRITISH MEDICAL ASSOCIATION: I see many failures of the system. You look back now and just wonder how it could happen on this scale, in this way. And that's what an inquiry would need to do.
LOWRIE (on camera): Not just an inquiry, Britain's health secretary says the government must consider proposals to better monitor doctors' practices and the reporting of deaths to safeguard patients in the future.
Margaret Lowrie, CNN, London.
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