Former neurologist jailed in massive Dutch medical negligence case

A former neurologist who made wrong diagnoses, wrongly prescribed powerful drugs and misused his duty of care has been jailed for three years by a court in Almelo.

The public prosecution department described the case as the biggest-ever medical negligence case in the Netherlands and said the doctor, Ernst Jansen Steur, should be jailed for six years.

His lawyer already said there will be an appeal against the three-year sentence.


The court said Jansen Steur, 68, should have known that he had damaged people’s health through his treatments and that he had often diagnosed serious illnesses such as Alzheimer on the basis of very flimsy evidence. He also systematically ignored signs that his diagnosis was wrong.

Seven patients without psychiatric complaints went on to develop serious anxiety issues and relationship problems after being wrongly diagnosed. In one case, a patient went on to commit suicide after being told she had a terminal disease, the court said.

Jansen Steur also continued to treat patients despite being addicted himself to prescription drugs, the court said. As a doctor, he should have been aware of the consequences of his addiction.


However, the court found him not guilty of deliberately putting patients in a hopeless position. Patients could have asked for a second opinion, the court said. ‘They needed help but were not helpless,’ the court said in a statement.

Jansen Steur was identified working at a hospital in the German town of Heilbronn last year after being voluntarily removed from the official Dutch register.

The German hospital authorities sacked him after being alerted to his past by Dutch media. He was working as a doctor’s assistant, a relatively low position given his extensive CV.

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