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Nurse accused of killing 38 patients by injecting fatal dose of potassium

ITALY: Police in Italy are investigating whether a nurse could have killed up to 38 people who have died in hospital in suspicious circumstances.

The nurse, Daniela Poggiali, is accused of injecting one patient with a fatal dose of potassium after the 78-year-old patient, who was admitted to hospital with a routine illness, died unexpectedly.

She is also suspected of giving her patients high doses of potassium because she found them or their families annoying, according to local news reports in Italy.

The police inquiry is being expanded to investigate 38 deaths, including ten which police have described as “very suspicious” according to local media reports of a police press conference.

The Italian newspaper Libero Quotidiano has reported that a staff member at the hospital claimed that Poggiali, 42, had asked to have her photo taken next to a patient who had just died. Another staff member reportedly said the nurse had joked about giving a high dose of potassium to a very ill patient.

The Corriere di Bologna newspaper has reported that a phone taken by the police contains a photo she took with giving a thumbs up next to a patient that had died. Potassium chloride can trigger cardiac arrest and is used in the US for administering the death penalty.

Police reportedly said the case was difficult because potassium fades from the blood very quickly.