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Pinholes found in unused drip bags at Yokohama hospital where patients died

YOKOHAMA -- Pinholes were found on the rubber caps of some of about 50 unused IV drip bags kept at the fourth-floor nurse station of a hospital here, where two patients died of suspected poisoning after being put on a drip, investigative sources said.

Traces of a surface active agent were found in the bodies of the two victims -- Nobuo Yamaki and Sozo Nishikawa, both 88, who were staying in the same room on the fourth floor of Oguchi Hospital in Kanagawa Ward, Yokohama, according to Kanagawa Prefectural Police. Suspecting that their deaths were caused by the foreign substance mixed into drip bags, prefectural police are treating the cases as a serial murder and are poised to analyze the contents of the drip bags from which the holes were found.

Protective film, which is removed when an IV drip bag is used, remained attached to the rubber caps on the bags on which the holes were found. The holes went through the film and the rubber caps.

Since the rubber caps are highly stretchable, they can keep the bags airtight even if they get tiny holes.

Most of the unused drip bags were brought into the fourth-floor nurse station from the hospital's pharmaceutical department on the morning of Sept. 17, and had since been kept in an unlocked space.

Nishikawa and Yamaki were confirmed dead at 7 p.m. on Sept. 18, and 4:55 a.m. on Sept. 20, respectively.

Traces of a surface active agent, a substance contained in disinfectant solution, were found in Yamaki's body as well as the bag that contained IV fluids administered to him. The same substance was also detected in Nishikawa's body.

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