Japanese nurse admits to killing at least 20 patients

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 Japanese nurse admitted to killing at least 20 elderly patients and said she planned their deaths to occur when she was off-shift - because she didn't want to be bothered explaining their demise to relatives during working hours.

Police launched their probe after another nurse spotted bubbles inside the IV drip bag of 88-year-old patient Nobuo Yamaki after he died in September 2016.

Ayumi Kuboki, 31, allegedly poisoned the elderly people by injecting their IV drips with antiseptic solution at Oguchi Hospital, around 20 miles south of Tokyo, in 2016.

Japanese media quoted her as telling police after her arrest that she had administered the disinfectant to "about 20" other patients, adding that she only targeted those who were gravely ill.

An employee who had worked with Kuboki at a different hospital said: "She was the kind of person who was hard to figure out ... but she was considered competent".

Police were already investigating the deaths of two patients, including the 88-year-old.

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Police ruled that his death, along with Nishikawa's, were due to poisoning. 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.

Nishikawa's health declined shortly after and he died at 7 p.m.

Subsequent investigations also found the cleaning agent in the bodies of an 89-year-old man and a woman aged 78 who had died around the same time.

But between April and August 2016, the fourth floor was plagued by a series of unsettling problems - including ripped nurses' uniforms and drinks that were found spiked with unknown substances.

Investigators found tiny punctures in the rubber seals of the bags, indicating that the antiseptic had been injected into them.

When they examined all of the nurses' uniforms, they found the chemicals around a pocket on Kuboki's uniform. Police zeroed in on Kuboki after analyzing hospital worker uniforms, finding that only hers carried traces of the chemical.

Former colleagues said they were shocked to learn that Kuboki, who started working at the hospital in 2015, had been arrested. As numerous bodies were cremated before tests could be done, Kuboki may have killed far more people than she admits.

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