Nurse 'poisoned patients' so she wasn't there when they died

Japanese authorities on Thursday raided the apartment of a nurse who is in custody on suspicion of poisoning up to 20 patients.

Her actions have led to the death of at least two elderly patients at the terminal care hospital where she worked.

The woman confessed to police she poisoned about 20 patients to have them die when she was off-duty and could avoid the trouble of explaining the deaths to their families, local media reported.

Kanagawa prefectural police said they searched 31-year-old Ayumi Kuboki’s apartment in Yokohama, near Tokyo, for more evidence in the case.

Former nurse, Ayumi Kuboki, 31, was arrested on July 7, 2018, for allegedly poisoning up to 20 patients. Source: AAP

Kuboki was arrested on Saturday on suspicion of killing two men in 2016 by injecting disinfectant into their intravenous drips at the former Oguchi Hospital, since renamed Yokohama Hajime Hospital, according to a Kanagawa police official, under the condition of anonymity, citing department rules.

In 2016, a hospital lawyer told The Associated Press 46 other patients had died on the same floor from July 1 until late September that year.

It was about a year after Kuboki started working at the hospital.

Around that time, whistleblowing emails sent to the city’s health department described problems at the hospital such as a nurse’s bottled drink being laced with bleach, a uniform slashed, or missing medical records of patients, according to investigation results published by a city committee last year.

Kuboki, who had since left the job, denied any responsibility when asked about the deaths by Japanese television networks last year.

Police investigators head to the house of suspect Ayumi Kuboki in Yokoham, which was raided by Japanese authorities on Thursday, July 12, 2018. Source: Yuya Shino/Kyodo News via AP

The case surfaced on September 20, 2016, when the hospital informed police of a possible poisoning after 88-year-old Nobuo Yamaki died while receiving an intravenous injection.

Police confirmed his IV solution had been contaminated with a disinfectant.

They then found there was another victim, Sozo Nishikawa, who died two days earlier.

Police got hold of his body just before cremation and conducted an autopsy, which showed he had been poisoned with the same disinfectant.

Investigators have found traces of the same disinfectant only on her nurse uniform, according to the Asahi newspaper.

They also reportedly found tiny puncture marks in 10 of about 50 unused intravenous bags stored at the nursing station on the fourth floor, which handles the terminally ill.

The hospital, which stopped taking new patients and changed its name, installed security cameras and took other safety steps.

It also apologised to its patients and families over the alleged crime and the patients’ deaths.

With The Associated Press