Nurse arrested over patient deaths 'put cleanser in drips'

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

A former nurse who allegedly killed as many as 20 elderly patients by injecting their intravenous drips with chemicals is in police custody, Japanese media have reported.

However, police have cast doubt on those claims, saying some of the patients who died during that period were not terminally ill.

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.

Kuboki told police that she hastened the patients' deaths so that they died on another nurse's shift and she didn't have to break the news to their families, newspaper Asahi Shimbun reports.

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 also admitted poisoning 88-year-old Nobuo Yamaki, who was being treated in the same room as Nishikawa.

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

In his case, Kuboki allegedly sneaked into his room between 3 p.m. and 4:55 p.m. September 18, 2016, ahead of her 5 p.m. night shift.

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

A series of disturbing incidents were then reported on the fourth floor where she worked in 2016, where nurses' uniforms were ripped and drinks were spiked with a foreign substance.

Antiseptic was then discovered in the bodies of two further patients, an 89-year-old man and a 78-year-old woman who have not been named. "We had had no inkling that she was a problem employee", one explained to the newspaper.

Police began investigating following Nishikawa and Yamaki's deaths and found 10 unused antiseptic-laced IV bags with tiny holes in the rubber seal - indicating they were punctured with a syringe.

Kuboki gained a nurse's license in 2008.

Police questioned Kuboki in late June after she quit the hospital. As numerous bodies were cremated before tests could be done, Kuboki may have killed far more people than she admits.

Former colleagues said they were shocked to learn that Kuboki, who started working at the hospital in 2015, had been arrested.

In December past 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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