Japanese nurse may have killed 20 patients, says media

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.

Unable to cope with the emotional burden of having to explain to the relatives why the patient died on her watch, Ayumi Kuboki allegedly killed her victims by administering intravenous drips with a disinfectant containing benzalkonium chloride. "She was the kind of person who was hard to figure out. but she was considered competent", one said.

Ayumi Kuboki allegedly poisoned the patients by lacing their intravenous drips with toxic antiseptic chemicals at specific times, Japanese newspaper the Asahi Shimbun reported Tuesday. Kuboki reportedly confessed to murdering at least 20 other patients out of the 48 that passed away between July and September 2016.

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.

An autopsy was then carried out on another 88-year-old patient, Sozo Nishikawa, who had shared a room with Yamaki.

Police ruled that his death, along with Nishikawa's, were due to poisoning. She added that she had not noticed anything unusual during her shifts at the hospital.

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

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Police found the same solution in the bodies of two other senior patients, an 89-year-old man and 78-year-old woman, who died around the same time as the two men. "We had had no inkling that she was a problem employee", a member of staff told the Asahi.

The nurses worked in pairs, Asahi Shimbun reported, and Kuboki would administer the deadly chemicals while her colleagues were busy in briefings as shifts changed over.

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.

Police questioned Kuboki in late June after she quit the hospital.

Kuboki's former co-workers said they were shocked to hear about the nurse's arrest. As numerous bodies were cremated before tests could be done, Kuboki may have killed far more people than she admits. Kuboki told investigators she may have killed another 20 patients in the same way.

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