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Reconceptualizing the notion of victim selection, risk, and offender behavior in healthcare serial murders

Christine K. Lubaszka (Based in the Faculty of Social Science and Humanities, University of Ontario Institute of Technology, Oshawa, Canada)
Phillip C. Shon (Based in the Faculty of Social Science and Humanities, University of Ontario Institute of Technology, Oshawa, Canada)

Journal of Criminal Psychology

ISSN: 2009-3829

Article publication date: 15 March 2013

727

Abstract

Purpose

Beginning with the understanding that healthcare serial killers differ from traditional serial killers in terms of victim selection, risk and offender behavior, this paper attempts to reconceptualize how the motivations of healthcare serial killers are understood within the scope of care‐giving environments.

Design/methodology/approach

Drawing on the current literature surrounding serial homicide and serial killers, the paper argues that healthcare serial killers, by virtue of their profession, have an advantage in committing homicides that are less likely to be detected.

Findings

It is found that healthcare professionals work in an environment that is conducive to anti‐social behaviour like homicide. More specifically, recurring conditions within the work place (e.g. lack of a reporting system for problem employees, code of silence amongst employees) adds to the ease with which healthcare serial killers can evade capture.

Originality/value

Research examining healthcare professionals who kill their patients is limited. The current paper provisionally adds to the current understanding of serial homicide. While offering various explanations as to why healthcare serial killers are difficult to detect, this paper also explores some potential solutions for the monitoring of healthcare professionals and protecting the vulnerable patients in their care.

Keywords

Citation

Lubaszka, C.K. and Shon, P.C. (2013), "Reconceptualizing the notion of victim selection, risk, and offender behavior in healthcare serial murders", Journal of Criminal Psychology, Vol. 3 No. 1, pp. 65-78. https://doi.org/10.1108/20093821311307776

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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