YOKOHAMA (TR) – The IV bag of a deceased elderly patient at a hospital here was poisoned, Kanagawa Prefectural Police said on Monday, days after an investigation found the death last week of a male patient who was staying in the same room was also caused by his IV bag being poisoned.
Hospital officials initially ruled that the death sometime after September 18 of 88-year-old Sokura Nishikawa, who was a patient at Oguchi Hospital in Kanagawa Ward, was death by disease, TBS News reports (September 26).
Nishikawa was sharing the same room as Nobuo Yamaki, 88, whose death on September 20 was found to result from someone poisoning his IV drip bag.
An autopsy identified the same foreign substances that were in Yamaki’s body as well as his IV drip bag, police said.
The rubber seals of some of the IV bags stocked at the hospital’s nurse station were found to have been penetrated with a syringe, TBS News reported.
Local media also reported that the bags were said to be foamy, suggesting there were visible signs of tampering.
An acquaintance of Nishikawa said they had “only just heard two, three days ago that he was transferred to Oguchi Hospital.”
“I was shocked when I heard he passed away,” the acquaintance said.
Foamy IV bags
A nurse who works at another hospital that belongs to the same association of Oguchi Hospital told Nikkan Sports that a nurse would “normally notice” if an IV bag had been tampered with.
After being told that the bags used for the Oguchi victims were foamy, the nurse said “bags that are visibly tampered with like that are normally not used.”
The seals of IV bags are normally covered with a seal, which would need to be removed if someone were to inject substances into them with something like a syringe, the nurse said, adding that visible signs of defects or tampering are normally reported.
Whenever medication is to be injected into IV solution under instructions from doctors, the procedure is always “handled by two nurses,” the nurse said.
On the fourth floor of Oguchi Hospital where Yamaki was staying, there were numerous reported issues including an apron of a nurse that was torn up in April, a patient document that was lost in June, and foreign substances mixed into a worker’s drink in August.
A man who previously had family admitted to the hospital’s fourth floor told Nikkan Sports that “if you wanted to go into the nurse station, you probably can without any checks or anything.”