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Statistics Seminar, "Statistical issues in the investigation of a suspected serial killer nurse", Richard Gill, Leiden University

Tid: 2023-11-10 13:15 till 14:00 Seminarium

Investigating a cluster of deaths on a hospital ward is a difficult task for medical investigators, police, and courts. Patients do die in hospitals (the three most common causes of deaths in a hospital are, in order: cancer, heart disease, medical errors). Often such cases come to the attention of police investigators for two reasons: gossip about a particular nurse is circulating just as a couple of unexpected and disturbing events occur. Hospital investigators see a pattern and call in the police.

I will discuss two such cases with which I have been intensively involved. The first one is the case of the Dutch nurse Lucia de Berk. Arrested in 2001, convicted by a succession of courts up to the supreme court by 2005, after which a long fight started to get her a re-trial. She was completely exonerated in 2010. The second case is that of the English nurse Lucy Letby. Arrested in 2018, 2019 and 2020 for murders taking place in 2015 and 2016. Her trial started in 2022 and concluded with a “full life” sentence a couple of months ago.

There are many similarities between the two cases, but also a couple of disturbing differences. One difference being that Lucy Letby’s lawyers seem to have made no attempt whatsoever to defend her. Another difference is that statistics was used against Lucia de Berk but not, apparently, against Lucy Letby. But appearances are not always what they seem.

Report published by Royal Statistical Society on statistical issues in these cases

News feature in “Science” about myself and my work

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Tid: 2023-11-10 13:15 till 14:00


dragi [at] maths [dot] lth [dot] se

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Sidansvarig: webbansvarig@math.lu.se | 2017-05-23