• Kyodo

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A woman in her 70s died at a Kochi hospital Thursday after an intern mistakenly punctured her aorta by pushing a needle too deeply into her chest while trying to extract bone marrow, it was learned Friday.

Tadashi Horimi, director of Kochi Prefectural Chuo Hospital, offered an apology to a prefectural assembly committee. “It was a simple mistake, and we deeply regret it,” Horimi said, adding that the hospital would take steps to prevent a recurrence.

Prefectural police said they have conducted an autopsy on the woman and are questioning the intern, a man in his 20s who works in the internal medicine department.

According to prefectural health authorities, the patient was hospitalized April 1 for acute leukemia and had been undergoing treatment.

At around 2:30 p.m. Monday, the intern pushed a syringe into the woman’s chest in an effort to remove marrow fluid from her sternum.

The tip of the needled punctured her aorta, however, causing between 20 cc and 30 cc of blood to spurt out. The woman fell into a coma and her heart stopped beating. She was pronounced dead at around 8:30 a.m. Thursday.

The intern had conducted the same procedure dozens of times previously, including five times on the woman, according to the hospital.

The intern was quoted as saying that because he had not drawn any fluid on the first attempt, he thought he had not pushed the needle in deep enough. He said he pushed the needle in further on his second attempt, via a different point of entry.

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