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Blind Eye - Book Review

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This book, Blind Eye, follows the true story and career of Michael Swango, medical professional and convicted serial killer. Swango was able to continue his destructive career because a number of medical professionals turned a blind eye to his past.

As early as medical school in Illinois, Michael Swango had significant issues of competency and judgment. And very early in his medical career he was convicted of poisoning a group of his co-workers. Despite these early and ongoing warnings, Swango was able to obtain medical licenses and positions as a physician and as an ambulance crew member in several states, and even in foreign countries overseas. When Dr. Swango was on staff at several different places, the death rate among patients seems to have increased very quickly. At the time, these increases were not noticed by those health care organizations. When they were found, they were not reported to local authorities. Ultimately, there were investigations into his activities in several locations over a large period of time. As a result, he was convicted and imprisoned on charges of fraud and illegal access to and distribution of controlled substances.

While in prison, he was finally charged and plead guilty to several cases of "administering toxic substances that he knew would cause death," in one state and plead guilty to one murder charge in a second state. There is suspicion that the actual number of his victims is much higher than the number of victims he was actually convicted of hurting. The author, James B. Stewart, has done a really good job of describing how Swango falsified documents, repeatedly broke hospital rules and expectations, had difficulty relating to peers, and lied to people close to him over and over again.

To me, the most frightening parts of this story are: one, many smart people were so convinced by his stories that they repeatedly did not perform good investigations of his highly unusual circumstances and, two, they did not share critical information with the authorities or with other health care organizations after things did happen. This lack of sharing important information and with Dr. Swango's ability to provide credible explanations resulted in his gaining positions in new locations over and over again. One other crazy thing is that this one man is believed to have killed over 60 patients and coworkers throughout his career, many of these cases he wasn't charged for.

This book, like many, does start out sort of slow, but once it starts to pick up pace, it is hard to put the book down. It always made you want to keep reading and find out what happens next. I would recommend it to other high schoolers, but would definitely warn about some parts where the author does get very detailed about some things.

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