BLIND EYE by James B. Stewart

BLIND EYE

How the Medical Establishment Let a Doctor Get Away with Murder
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KIRKUS REVIEW

The shocking story of Dr. Michael Swango, who, despite being a convicted felon suspected of murdering dozens of his patients, was allowed to practice medicine. Best-selling author Stewart (Den of Thieves, 1991, etc.) brings us inside the life of a killer who thrived in a medical establishment where doctors typically cover up for other doctors, where hospital administrators live in constant fear of litigation, and where regulatory agencies don’t share crucial information. At Southern Illinois University’s medical school, Swango kept to himself, but classmates noticed that patients who came into contact with him tended to die. After graduating, Swango got a prestigious medical internship at Ohio State University. In February 1984 at Ohio State, patient Ruth Barrick died immediately after Swango treated her. Later a nurse saw Swango injecting a patient with a syringe; the patient almost died. The nurse who accused Swango was ignored and, in a pattern that would repeatedly benefit Swango, other doctors circled the wagons to defend their colleague. As more patients died, Ohio State initiated an in-house investigation, led by a fellow doctor, that fully exonerated Swango. Hospital administrators refused to even reprimand him, because they “didn’t want to be sued by Swango as a result of unfounded charges and nurses’ gossip.” When his internship was up, Swango worked as a paramedic in his hometown of Quincy, Ill. He related fantasies to his co-workers about killing people. When Swango brought in donuts, his co-workers got sick. After a few more poisonings, Swango was arrested and convicted. A felon, he nonetheless went on to practice medicine in South Dakota, New York, and Africa. In each place, patients died mysteriously under Swango’s care. Finally, upon his return from Africa, the FBI arrested the young doctor for falsifying medical records. He’s currently in prison, but could be released within three years. Although Stewart writes skillfully about the medical establishment’s unforgivable “code of silence,” he never quite succeeds in taking us very far into Swango’s warped mind. Thus, we—re left to guess about his psychotic motives and thought processes.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-684-85484-8
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 1999