Japanese nurse reportedly ‘used intravenous drips to kill 20 patients’

Blanche Robertson
July 11, 2018

A former nurse has admitted tampering with intravenous drips in a mass poisoning case that police believe led to the deaths of dozens of patients at a hospital in Japan two years ago.

A nurse in Japan has been arrested on suspicion of poisoning up to 20 patients so they wouldn't die on her shift.

She claimed she only targeted seriously ill patients who she believed were going to die on her shift, but sources said some of the victims were not in serious condition when they died.

Ayumi Kuboki (31) has been arrested on suspicion of killing Sozo Nishikawa (88) at Oguchi Hospital, in the city of Yokohama, south-west of Tokyo, in September 2016.

She has since told investigators that she also poisoned another 88-year-old man, Nobuo Yamaki, who was being treated in the same fourth-floor room as Nishikawa, and may have killed another 20 patients using the same method, according to the Asahi Shimbun newspaper.

"It would be troublesome if that responsibility [notifying the families of patients' deaths] fell to me", she reportedly told police after her arrest.

Kuboki reportedly denied any specific grudge against her patients, but said she found it hard to deal with deaths on her shift, and injecting the drips allowed her to control when her patients died.

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The chemical, an antibacterial that's readily available within hospitals, was found in Yamaki's body and his IV bag. At first, Kuboki denied all involvement, even expressing her sympathy for the families of the deceased and saying she noticed nothing suspicious around the hospital.

The same chemical has been found in the bodies of two other patients who died aged 78 and 89, the news agency said.

The deaths also coincided with a series of incidents that police suspected had been carried out by a member of the hospital's staff, but were unable to prove.

Staffers told Asahi Shimbun there were no red flags. They declined to confirm the broader investigation.

When they examined all of the nurses' uniforms, they found the chemicals around a pocket on Kuboki's uniform.

Kuboki qualified as a nurse in 2008 and began working at Oguchi Hospital in 2015, where she was known as a quiet but competent employee.

In December previous year, while the investigation into the mysterious deaths at the hospital was was ongoing, Kuboki told Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun, "I've worked hard to help patients die in peace, so I was shocked by the incidents".

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