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Suspect Treated 7 Patients Who Died

May 6, 1998

GLENDALE, Calif. (AP) _ Efren Saldivar, the self-professed mercy killer who later recanted, treated at least seven patients at Glendale Adventist Medical Center who died, a hospital official said Wednesday.

Four retired doctors who have reviewed 86 patient deaths determined that Saldivar provided some care for seven of them.

Medical center spokesman Mark Newmyer said the deaths of the seven patients were not suspicious. ``It just means that (Saldivar) was involved at some stage of their care at the end of their life,″ he said.

The panel is interviewing family members who fear relatives may have fallen victim to Saldivar, a respiratory therapist who told authorities he suffocated or fatally drugged 40 to 50 terminally ill patients.

In later television interviews, Saldivar recanted, saying he had lied because he was depressed, suicidal and wanted to be sent to death row.

Saldivar, 28, was fired with four other hospital employees. No charges have been filed in the case.

Police were already reviewing the seven patient deaths, Newmyer said, based on their own review of hospital records.

Police Sgt. Rick Young, a department spokesman, did not return a phone call Wednesday. Investigators have not said how many hospital deaths they are investigating.

A retired physician on the hospital review panel said interviewing family members has been grueling.

``It’s opening up a tremendous wound,″ said Frank Gaspar. ``They ask, `Did Saldivar have anything to do with it?′ They’re looking for some closure.″

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