French doctor suspected in poisoning cases

Authorities have begun an investigation into anesthetist Frederic Pechier, charging him with 24 cases of poisoning in total.

The 47-year-old doctor is accused of injecting lethal doses of potassium chloride or anesthetics into his colleagues' medication pouches.

It's believed he aimed to trigger operating room emergencies where he could then intervene to show off his supposed talents.

"Mr. Pechier appears as the common denominator for these unfortunate and serious events that seem related to an acute conflict with other anesthetists or surgeons at the Saint-Vincent clinic," prosecutor Etienne Manteaux said Thursday.

Pechier was already being investigated for seven other cases of poisoning, which led to nine deaths in total.

The physician has denied any wrongdoing, but the prosecution has asked that he be kept under arrest ahead of trial, where he could face a life sentence.

Read more: Patients contract Hepatitis C after surgery with anesthetist

Periods of conflict with colleagues

Pechier was said to have been "omnipresent" in handling the resuscitation of patients after suspicious heart failures. Colleagues became suspicious of the speed with which he diagnosed anesthetic overdoses, the prosecutor said.

Manteaux said the incidents became more numerous at times of "intense conflict" between Pechier and his colleagues.

The case bears some similarity to that of male nurse Niels Högel, who is charged in Germany with the murders of 97 patients.

During his trial, which has been running since October, has admitted to 43 killings, denied five and has not ruled out more than 50 others.

rc/cmk (AFP, Reuters)

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