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Capturing the Killer Nurse review: A hard look at how hospitals enabled serial murderer Charles Cullen

The true-crime documentary features interviews with the nurses and police officers who eventually helped stop Cullen’s murderous spree, as well as a few family members of his victims.

Capturing the Killer Nurse review: A hard look at how hospitals enabled serial murderer Charles Cullen
Amy Loughren who helped cops nab Charles Cullen
  • Prathibha Joy

Last Updated: 06.35 AM, Nov 12, 2022


Story: In 2003, Charles Cullen, a nurse working predominantly in the Intensive Care Unit, was arrested on suspicion of administering deadly medications via intravenous drips, which resulted in multiple deaths, including of patients on the road to recovery. Over 16 years and nine hospitals, Charlie, as he was known to colleagues, is believed to have been responsible for the deaths of over 400 patients but has been convicted for just under 30.

Review: A couple of weeks ago, Oscar-winner Eddie Redmayne played Charles Cullen, a nurse who believed he was easing his patients out of misery by administering a deadly cocktail of drugs through their intravenous drips. Based on a book The Good Nurse by Charles Graeber, the film The Good Nurse had Jessica Chastain as Cullen’s colleague, who finally enabled law enforcement to stop his murderous spree.

Capturing the Killer Nurse is also based on the book, but presents the real-life version of events, with author Graeber pointing out that while Cullen was stopped, the hospitals that let it happen were not held accountable, even though some raised red flags when patients in wards he worked at died mysteriously. The for-profit-private healthcare system kept sweeping any wrongdoing under the carpet and passing him off to the next hospital with a good reference. That’s an absolutely scary scenario when the ones you trust your life with, not only have the means to take it, but are also allowed to keep functioning that way. Cullen was a product of corporate greed – any hospital stepping up to take accountability, would have had multi-billion lawsuits against them and taken a massive hit in credibility. That’s not something any business wants to shoulder and healthcare is a massive business.

The one-and-a-half hour documentary focuses on the time it took for Somerset police to gather enough evidence against Cullen that could warrant an arrest, aided by Cullen’s friend and colleague Amy Loughren. After supporting her friend initially and giving him a glowing ‘good nurse’ reference, Amy decided to help the cops only after she saw what Cullen was actually up to – ordering deadly medication, accessing the medicine cabinet that then opens and then cancelling the same order, to make it seem like it was a mistake. The medications he’d order were the same that were mysteriously found in the blood works of the deceased patients. It did not take Amy long to put the picture together.

Not surprisingly, though, it took the few months to finally stop Cullen, because the hospital was less than forthcoming with information, as it ran its own ‘internal investigation’ for months before letting law enforcement take over. Even when pretending to be supporting the investigation, the hospital stonewalled as best as it could, which goes to show the lengths ‘healthcare’ operatives will go to protect their interests.

Charles Cullen is currently serving 18 consecutive life sentences, after he struck a plea deal that allowed him to escape capital punishment. The documentary, as well as the film, are reminders, though, that the hospitals that allowed Cullen to run amok are just as much as fault. But they just won’t admit it and will go to any lengths to ensure it remains that way. The patient’s best interest is not the goal of healthcare anymore. And that’s a sad reality we all have to live with.

Verdict: If you’ve seen The Good Nurse, Capturing a Killer is not a must watch, unless, of course, you’d like to see the people instrumental in finally stopping one of America’s most prolific serial killers.