FUKUOKA – The police have renewed their investigation in a hospital in Fukuoka Prefecture following the discovery of a small hole in an intravenous drip bag after perforations were found in three IV bags there in October.
No patients at the Hospital of the University of Occupational and Environmental Health in Yahatanishi Ward, Kitakyushu, were harmed, and the intravenous drip bag was not used.
When the earlier holes were found, it was discovered that one had been used on a patient, but no adverse health affects were noted. At that time, the hospital also discovered that a ring of keys for a drug depository and other rooms was missing.
The earlier bags were discovered after the suspected serial poisoning of two patients at a Yokohama hospital in September.
The latest perforation was discovered around noon Sunday when two nurses were checking IV bags at a nurses station on the ninth floor of the hospital, the police said. The bag had reportedly been brought to the station about an hour earlier in a locked cart from a department that stores medicine in the basement.
The police said they suspect the case is a vicious prank, and that someone familiar with the hospital’s inner workings is involved. They are questioning about 10 employees who were involved in some way with the nurses station on Sunday.
The three pierced bags found in October had been handled at the same nurses station, according to the police.
Part of the hospital was without electricity from the morning due to a security check, and security cameras installed at the nurses station after the incident in October were not working. The planned blackout had been announced to hospital staff beforehand.
“We’ve made every effort to prevent recurrence since a similar case occurred in October. I deeply apologize,” the head of the hospital, Takeyoshi Sata, said in a comment posted on its website.
A hospital official refused to comment as the investigation is still underway.
The hospital, approved by the government to operate as an advanced treatment institution, has departments for internal medicine, surgery and pediatrics, among others, and has 678 beds.
In Yokohama, meanwhile, Oguchi Hospital submitted plans to the municipal government last week to improve its practices, and a police investigation is still ongoing after two elderly patients died in the span of a few days in late September after receiving IV drips allegedly laced with disinfectant.
A chemical contained in a disinfectant stored at a nurses station, used to clean surgical instruments, was found in their bodies as well as on IV bags that had been used on them, leading to suspicion that somebody injected the chemical into the bags via small holes.
Oguchi Hospital plans to introduce a colored disinfectant to distinguish it from IV drips, the municipal government said Friday after receiving the hospital’s improvement plans earlier in the day.
The plans, drawn up in response to instructions by the Yokohama Municipal Government following its inspection last month, also said the hospital will make sure all intravenous drip bags are kept in locked shelves. The nurses station that was in charge of the two patients did not lock up IV bags.
The hospital, which had halted outpatient care in light of the fatal cases, restarted the service Oct. 21 only for patients who had seen its doctors before, the municipal government said.