• Kyodo

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An investigation is underway into a suspected murder of an 88-year-old man who died from poisoning at a Yokohama hospital earlier this week while being administered a medical drip as well as three other suspicious deaths at the same facility, police said Saturday.

Nobuo Yamaki died about an hour after his falling heart rate triggered an alarm at Oguchi Hospital in Yokohama’s Kanagawa Ward around 4 a.m. on Tuesday, according to investigators. Hospital staff notified police that a foreign substance might have been put into the drip, which the police confirmed without identifying the substance.

A nurse in charge of the patient changed the drip around 10 p.m. on Monday. As there were no apparent holes in the bag, the police suspect someone may have used a needle to insert a poisonous material.

In addition to Yamaki, two men in their 80s died at the hospital while being administered a drip on Sept. 18.

A woman in her 90s also died on Tuesday but she was not given a medical drip.

The police are conducting autopsies to determine the causes of the deaths.

Yamaki had been hospitalized since Sept. 14 in a room on the fourth floor of the hospital, which was shared with five other patients, the police said, adding the three elderly patients who died from Sept. 18 to Tuesday also stayed on the fourth floor.

According to the Yokohama Municipal Government, a number of troubling incidents have taken place at the hospital.

In early July, the municipal government received an email tipoff about an incident in which a nurse’s apron was slashed.

Another email to the local government from the same sender in mid-August said a hospital staff member had suffered blistered lips after consuming a drink believed to have been laced with bleaching agents. When the city government queried the hospital earlier this month, officials there admitted the problems and revealed they had questioned staff.

At the time, the city government instructed the hospital to take measures to prevent similar problems, city officials said.

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