An Italian nurse was arrested Wednesday and stands accused of murdering 13 patients in fewer than two years.
Police said that Fausta Bonino used fatal doses of a blood-thinning drug to kill intensive care patients at a hospital in the coastal town of Piombino, Tuscany, AFP reported
"None of the victims' lives had been in danger at the time the drugs were administered," detective Erasmo Fontana said. They were ages 61 to 88 with serious but not terminal illnesses when they died between January 2014 and September 2015.
The patients reportedly were given 10 times the normal amount of the blood-thinner Heparin, The Guardian reported
, noting that the victims apparently didn't need the drug.
Bonino, who is in her mid-50s, was caught by police who used secret cameras to observe her. The investigation also included searches of the hospital and Bonino’s home.
“In the ranking of horrors this time we have reached one of the peaks committed by human misery,” Beatrice Lorenzin, Italy’s health minister, said in a statement. “This incident highlights once again the need for special protection for the elderly and frail people in the health facilities that are entrusted with their care.”
Twelve of the victims died of internal bleeding, and one died of cardiac arrest, Reuters reported
The suspect was reportedly the only staff member to work with all 13 victims, and the unit’s mortality rate fell sharply after she was transferred, police commander Gennero Riccardi told reporters.
"We do not yet know of a specific motive. But the suspect suffers from depression," Riccardi said, noting that she had received psychological treatment for years.
Earlier this month, another Italian nurse, Daniele Poggiali, was found guilty of killing a 78-year-old patient with a lethal dose potassium chloride, the BBC noted
. She is suspected in other deaths.
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