• Kyodo

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Toyama Prefecture is investigating two deaths at a municipal hospital in Kamiichi in April and May, believed to have been caused by medical malpractice, prefectural government officials said Thursday.

An 87-year-old woman died of pneumonia in April after being given an erroneous blood transfusion in February, while a 69-year-old male cancer patient died in May after a postsurgery abdominal tube damaged an artery, causing massive bleeding, the officials said.

Kamiichi Kosei Hospital admitted giving the woman the wrong type of blood.

The municipal government assumed responsibility and imposed pay cuts and other punitive measures against hospital director Tadashi Kubo and several nurses on March 30.

The hospital maintains, however, that the woman’s death was not caused by a defective blood transfusion as no abnormalities were detected in her condition following the error.

The hospital also ruled out the possibility that the man’s death was caused by malpractice, describing the incident as “an unexpected medical accident.” It said a doctor in charge of the patient took swift remedial measures.

The man died of renal failure on May 1, despite undergoing surgery to stop the heavy bleeding.

The hospital and the municipal government did not report the cases to prefectural authorities because they were not obliged to do so.

The Toyama Prefectural Government is, however, treating the deaths as a serious matter, according to the officials.

According to the hospital, the woman, who was being treated for a bile duct stone and other problems, received 1,200 ml of type-B blood over a three-day period beginning Feb. 5, although her blood type was A. Her condition did not immediately change after the transfusion, but she died April 28.

The man had part of his pancreas removed April 11 as part of his cancer treatment. Following this surgery, an abdominal tube was inserted into the man’s body to drain pancreatic fluid.

On April 23, the tube came free when the patient moved. When the doctor in charge replaced the tube with a firmer one, its tip damaged an artery and caused massive bleeding, the hospital said.

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