A nurse charged in the death of a patient at a New Jersey medical center says that he killed between 30 and 40 people during a 16-year career at hospitals in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, the Philadelphis Inquirer reports. Charles Cullen, 43, said he administered lethal doses of drugs to alleviate patients’ pain and suffering.
Cullen, of Bethlehem, Pa., told a judge in Somerset County, N.J., that he would plead guilty to a murder charge. He was charged Friday with the death of a Roman Catholic priest and the attempted murder of a woman, both patients at Somerset Medical Center in Somerville, N.J.
Cullen has been fired from at least four of his last six nursing jobs. He was hired at Somerset three months after resigning from St. Luke’s Hospital in Bethlehem while under suspicion for stealing medication. William Cors, chief medical officer at Somerset, said he was “outraged” that none of the other hospitals had sent warnings about Cullen. St. Luke’s officials said Somerset had not contacted them.
Somerset fired Cullen on Oct. 31 after discovering “test abnormalities.” Two patients were found with “extremely high levels” of digoxin, the generic name for Lanoxin, a heart-disease medication.