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Murderer’s admission to medical school sparks debate

4 Dec 2009, 12:20

Published: 04 Dec 2009 12:20 GMT+01:00

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In 2007 the man was admitted to the Karolinska Institute, just seven years after being convicted of a hate murder. Sweden’s top medical school claims that it accepted the man into its medicine course while being unaware of his past crimes.

After the medical profession expressed its sharp criticism of the student’s acceptance into the medial course, a strong debate is now raging about whether murderers are entitled to study, or practice, medicine.

On behalf of the government, the Swedish Medical Society (Svenska Läkaresällskapet) has been investigating whether a person with a criminal background can be denied the right to become a medical practitioner. In a letter in November, addressed to Tobias Krantz, Minister for Higher Education and Research, the Swedish Medical Society outlined its stance on the issue.

The society said that although the individual’s legal rights must be taken into consideration, the patient’s confidence in the Swedish health system (and in the doctors and medical students they meet), and protecting the patient’s security, are of paramount importance. It also commented that medical practitioners must earn the confidence and respect of society during their study and entire working life.

The medical authority observed that some issues, such as a serious mental disorder, severe abuse or serious crime, could undermine public confidence in medical practitioners.

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Chairman of the society, Peter Aspelin, and Niels Lynöe, head of the committee for medical ethics, said: “In conclusion, the question of whether or not to accept or reject a student due to certain circumstances like a serious crime which makes him/her unsuitable for the profession, is a very serious issue for us, and is being assessed on an ethical basis as well as looking at it from a patient’s perspective.”

The issue has now been passed to the Ministry for Higher Education and Research for further consideration.

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Your comments about this article

17:11 December 4, 2009 by Rick Methven
All Doctors take the Hippocratic oath, vowing to save lives. How can a murderer take such an oath?

If he had been convicted for manslaughter or accidental death then it may just be acceptable. BUT he was convicted for a hate killing. That means he knew exactly what he was doing.

Instead of being allowed to study for his doctors exams he should be locked up in a mental institution for the rest of his unnatural life
18:11 December 4, 2009 by suso
being a doctor myself,I must admit that this is the first time ever I come across such news of any person ever applying for or being accepted in a medical school.
19:42 December 4, 2009 by CanadianCoder
isn't the idea of rehabilitation to have the people coming out of jail to contribute more to society. so he comes out, decides to be a doctor and then people want to say no. can't really have both.
20:41 December 4, 2009 by boby
Sweden is a sick and sad country. All this debating BS on everything possible made you totaly blind to the simple and basic codes of society.

A murderer should be locked for good or be denied any access to any form of public funds after release.
21:30 December 4, 2009 by wthorn
Attention Dr. Phibes, please call your office.
22:18 December 4, 2009 by krrodman

For almost 1000 years there has been a debate about the purpose of incarceration. Is it to punish? Or, is it to rehabilitate? Ideally, society would benefit by proper rehabilitation. The problem, of course, is that the recidivism rate is very high for violent crimes even under the best of circumstances. I, for one, do not believe that a person who is capable of committing a violent crime can be rehabilitated. I believe that once the brain is hard-wired at a young age to commit violence, it cannot be rewired.

It astounds me that a person capable of a violent hate crime could be admitted to medical school. As a physician I take care of all manner of patients, many of whom do not share my background, moral code or world view. There is no doubt but that our hate crime doctor-murderer will have to care for many patients who come from the very group of people that he might otherwise have chosen to murder.

12:05 December 5, 2009 by workforthesoup
quite an interesting debate.. will be waiting to see what the decision is.

there are several questions to be answered.

How old is the student?

How many years ago did he commit the crime? 7 Plus years

How many years did he serve jail sentence?

How was the behavior of the person from the time crime was committed until now?

What does the persons psychological and medical analysis say?

From an initial gut feeling, without knowing these answers, it doesn't seem right to let this person "practice" medicine. That needn't necessarily prohibit him from studying it.
13:21 December 5, 2009 by Davey-jo
This Hippocratic Oath thing is just a myth. Doctors don't take any oath at all.
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