Japanese nurse may have killed 20 patients

A Japanese nurse was accused of tampering with intravenous drip bags at the hospital she worked

A nurse in Japan told police that she sped up the deaths at least 20 patients to avoid having to tell families that their loved ones died while she was working, local media reported.

Kuboki is under arrest on suspicion of fatally poisoning Sozo Nishikawa, 88, at Oguchi Hospital (currently Yokohama Hajime Hospital) where she worked in September 2016 by administering a disinfectant containing a surface-activating agent.

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".

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. She is also being questioned over the death of Nobuo Yamaki, also 88, two days later. "It was troublesome and hard having to explain to their family members".

"It would be a nuisance if that responsibility fell on me", she said. 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.

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

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Former colleagues told Asahi Shimbun they had no idea Kuboki could have been behind the string of deaths.

In their investigation police found 10 more antiseptic-contaminated IV bags with needle holes in the rubber seals among the 50 bags stored near the nurse's station on the floor where Nishikawa died - the floor where Kuboki worked as a nurse.

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

Kuboki was registered as a nurse in 2008 and worked at another hospital before joining Oguchi. Police zeroed in on Kuboki after analyzing hospital worker uniforms, finding that only hers carried traces of the chemical.

Doctors said Nishikawa died of natural causes, but Kuboki would later admit to injecting Nishikawa's intravenous drip bag with a disinfectant, The Guardian reported. The newspaper quoted Kuboki's mother, who said her daughter was scared of working in the hospital at night and wanted to leave her job.

Some 48 patients died at the Oguchi Hospital from "unusual circumstances" in a three-month time span in 2016.

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