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The health ministry inspected Teikyo University Hospital in Tokyo on Monday over the deaths of inpatients infected with antibiotics-resistant bacteria and the institution’s late reporting of the situation to authorities.

It was the first time the central government conducted an on-site inspection of the hospital since the infections came to light last week. Tokyo Metropolitan Government officials joined the inspection.

Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Police Department has begun questioning doctors and others at the hospital on a voluntary basis as part of an investigation into alleged professional negligence resulting in death.

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry will hear from hospital officials about Teikyo’s measures to prevent in-hospitals infection and the process of its reporting to authorities about cases of infection with the multidrug-resistant Acinetobacter.

Health minister Akira Nagatsuma said his ministry will dispatch people from the National Institute of Infectious Diseases to the hospital to have them check on its response to the situation and will launch a ministry panel to study how reporting is carried out in cases of in-hospital infection.

“Hospitals have a certain level of management responsibility, and there is a rule for reporting (such cases). We need to scrutinize whether the rule was functioning properly” at the hospital, Nagatsuma said.

The police have received related materials from the hospital and plan to conduct their own investigation into the hospital’s measures to prevent in-house infections, in consultation with medical experts, according to police officials.

Teikyo University Hospital in Itabashi Ward announced last week that 46 patients have been infected with Acinetobacter since last year through in-hospital contamination and 27 of them died, including nine whose deaths were likely caused directly by infection from the superbug.

Infection with another antibiotic-resistant bacterium, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, has also been detected in three patients at the hospital, including one who died in August, possibly due to the pseudomonal bacterium infection, according to the metropolitan government.

After the number of patients infected with Acinetobacter, first detected at the facility in August 2009, increased since around April, the hospital set up an internal panel in July to investigate but didn’t report to the authorities when the ministry and the metropolitan government conducted a regular joint on-site inspection in August.

Hospital officials have admitted they should have reported the infections earlier.

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