Dutch appeals court acquits neurologist in malpractice case

AP News
Posted: Jun 18, 2015 7:46 AM

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — A Dutch appeals court on Thursday acquitted a neurologist who had been convicted of knowingly giving inaccurate diagnoses including Alzheimer's and multiple sclerosis to patients, saying prosecutors had not proved he acted deliberately.

Ernst Jansen Steur was originally sentenced to three years in prison in one of the country's highest-profile medical malpractice cases. He appealed, as did prosecutors, who said he should have been jailed for six years.

One of Jansen Steur's patients took her own life after he told her she had a terminal illness.

Johanna van Sabben, whose mother was misdiagnosed, called the ruling a "controversial and unjust judgment," but said she was relieved the case was finally closed.

After acquitting him of the most serious charges of deliberate malpractice, the Arnhem Appeals Court gave Jansen Steur a suspended six-month sentence for offenses including stealing prescriptions.

His lawyer welcomed the ruling.

"I think it's a very good judgment that confirms that my client didn't act deliberately but as a doctor with good intentions who indeed committed mistakes and some of them were very big," said Peter Plasman. "That was the main point of the case, but he didn't act deliberately. And that's why the court made decision that this was not a criminal act."

Jansen Steur has been diagnosed with a narcissistic personality disorder and was addicted to prescription sedatives at the time of some of his false diagnoses, which took place between 1997 and 2003. He later went on to work in Germany before his prosecution in the Netherlands.