• Kyodo


Traces of cresol solution were found Wednesday afternoon in containers used to help two longtime patients intake liquid food at Yamanashi Red Cross Hospital in Kawaguchiko, Yamanashi Prefecture, suggesting foul play, police said Thursday.

The two patients are doing well in an intensive care unit after their stomachs were pumped by the hospital, along with 15 other patients who were also receiving about 600 ml of nutriments via feeding tubes.

The two, a 74-year-old man and a 69-year-old woman, had received about one-third and two-thirds of the liquid contaminated with the disinfectant agent, respectively, when a nurse noticed a change of color in the plastic containers around 5:15 p.m.

According to sources close to the investigation, three hospital staffers were involved with the patients during the period of roughly 85 minutes from when the liquid nutrients were placed in the plastic containers and distributed to hospital rooms until the discoloration was discovered.

The hospital began administering nutriments to the patients via the containers at around 4:50 p.m., but nursing staff did not notice anything unusual at that time, hospital officials said.

Hospital staff added that this time period is generally a busy one for the ward, since many patients receive visitors.

Cresol in concentrations of 5 percent or higher is designated as a lethal drug, and its intake is life-threatening if a person receives at least 180 ml of the liquid in such a concentration, according to experts.

Although there is no cresol kept in the hospital ward in which the two victims were staying, there are bottles of the disinfectant other than those handled by hospital officials in places such as shelves under kitchen sinks used by visitors in an adjacent ward, sources close to hospital operations said.

Police said they are investigating any fingerprints that may have been left on those bottles.

“(We) caused trouble to our patients,” said Hospital Director Shigeo Saito. “We would like to work on preventive measures so incidents of this kind do not happen again.”

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