Please view the main text area of the page by skipping the main menu.

Ex-nurse accused of fatally poisoning elderly patient says end-of-life care was tough

In this Sept. 24, 2016 file photo, a notice saying that the hospital has suspended its examination of outpatients is posted at the front door to Oguchi Hospital in Kanagawa Ward, Yokohama. (Mainichi)

YOKOHAMA -- A former nurse arrested on suspicion of fatally poisoning a patient at a hospital has told investigators that it was tough to carry out end-of-life care work, investigative sources said.

"It was tough to see people die one after another in the terminal care unit," the suspect, 31-year-old Ayumi Kuboki, was quoted as telling police during questioning.

Kanagawa Prefectural Police are trying to clarify the detailed motives behind her alleged crime.

It has been confirmed that Sozo Nishikawa and Nobuo Yamaki died at the Oguchi Hospital (currently Yokohama Hajime Hospital) in Yokohama in September 2016 after being administered a high concentration of the disinfectant Germitol, which contains a surface-activating agent. Both victims were 88 at the time.

Kuboki is under arrest on suspicion of murdering Nishikawa, and has admitted that she killed not only Nishikawa but also Yamaki, investigative sources said.

Before she was arrested, Kuboki said during voluntary questioning, "It was tough to carry out end-of-life care work," and "I didn't like my job as I had to frequently comply with requests from patients," according to the sources.

Kuboki was working on the hospital's fourth floor for end-of-life care. Nishikawa and Yamaki were sharing a fourth floor room. A total of 48 patients on the floor died between July and September 2016.

The former nurse was also quoted by the sources as saying during questioning, "It was troublesome and tough to provide an explanation to the families of patients who died during my shift. I administered a disinfectant before my shift."

In a related development, Kuboki may have injected the disinfectant into medical fluid administered to patients through an intravenous drip without diluting the drug. If a patient is administered a high concentration of a disinfectant, it could cause multiple organ failure.

The revelations have led prefectural police investigators to believe that Kuboki had murderous intent when she administered the disinfectant.

Nishikawa died at the hospital on Sept. 18, 2016. His condition worsened shortly after Kuboki entered his room, according to an eyewitness. High levels of a surface-activating agency contained in Germitol were detected in Nishikawa's body, leading law enforcers to suspect that the disinfectant may have been injected through the side tube of an intravenous drip without diluting it.

Traces of a surface-activating agent were also detected from the bodies of two other elderly patients who died at the hospital.

Germitol is used for disinfecting medical equipment and the hands of medical staff and is not designated as a poisonous drug.

Also in The Mainichi

The Mainichi on social media