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British police hunt suspected hospital killer

LONDON (AFP) - British police were on Saturday hunting a suspected hospital killer after the unexplained deaths of three patients, in a case with echoes of the notorious nurse Beverley Allitt.

Officers said they were interviewing 11 patients who survived being given insulin-contaminated saline solution at Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport, northwest England.


Allitt, dubbed the "angel of death" was jailed for life in 1993 for killing four children with fatal doses of insulin and trying to kill nine other people.

Security has been stepped up at the hospital following the deaths, which are regarded as unexplained until the results of the post-mortem examinations.

A nurse at Stepping Hill Hospital raised the alarm this week after reporting abnormally high numbers of patients with low blood sugar levels.

Insulin was later found in a batch of 36 saline ampoules in a hospital storeroom. Detectives believe it was deliberately injected into the saline containers, which were used by at least two hospital wards.

They are now treating as suspicious the deaths of three people: Tracey Arden, a 44-year-old mother-of-two with multiple sclerosis who died on July 7, and two men, aged 71 and 84 and both with serious health problems, who died this week.

"We will be interviewing all those who became ill from the contaminated saline to find out if they can shed any light on who is responsible," a source at Greater Manchester Police said Saturday.

Assistant Chief Constable Terry Sweeney said Friday that all deaths at the hospital that might be connected were being referred to the coroner.

"As things stand, we do not know for sure if the contaminated saline contributed to the deaths of these three people," Sweeney said.

"It is a possibility we are looking at alongside the coroner, but we must stress that it will be extremely difficult to establish a link.

"That said, we have someone deliberately contaminating saline in the one place that people should feel they are being most cared for.

"I want to reassure everyone connected to the hospital -- staff, patients, visitors and the wider community -- that we are determined to prevent further harm and to bring the offender to justice."

Tracey Arden's brother, Gary, said Saturday that she had appeared to be responding well to treatment just hours before she died.

"During the afternoon my mother and father had been to visit her, then they left her looking like she was recovering well," he said.

He added: "They left and then a relatively short while afterwards they received a call from the hospital that Tracey had taken a turn for the worse and they think they should come on and see her.

"By the time my mother and father arrived she had just passed away."

She had been suffering from multiple sclerosis for the past 12 years and had been in care, but her visit to Stepping Hill Hospital was "routine", he said.

He said it came as a "complete shock" to hear about the police investigation this week, which has forced them to delay her funeral.

Chris Burke, the chief executive of Stepping Hill Hospital, said Friday that staff there were working closely with the police investigation and had also been asked to be "extra vigilant to help safeguard patients".

"We have increased security both in terms of access to the hospital and access to medicines and already replaced all saline ampoules across the hospital," he added.


英병원서 의문의 약물투여로 3명 사망

치사량의 인슐린 투여사건…11명은 생존

영국의 한 병원에서 악명높은 '죽음의 천사' 베벌리  엘릿 을 연상시키는 병원 내 살인 사건이 발생해 영국 경찰이 수사에 나섰다.

경찰 당국은 영국 스톡포트의 스테핑 힐 병원에서 치사량의 인슐린을 투여받은 환자 14명 중 3명이 사망한 사건과 관련, 생존자 11명을 상대로 조사를 벌이고 있다 고 16일(현지시각) 밝혔다.

'죽음의 천사'로 불리는 베벌리 엘릿은 간호사로 일하면서 환자 13명에게  인슐 린을 과다 투여해 어린이 4명을 숨지게 한 혐의로 1993년 종신형을 선고받은 악명높 은 인물이다.

이 사건은 한 간호사가 병원 내 혈당량이 낮은 환자들이 비정상적으로 많아진 것을 이상하게 여겨 신고하면서 알려졌다. 사후분석 결과 사망원인은 인슐린으로 오 염된 염류용액을 투여받았기 때문으로 밝혀졌다.

이후 병원의 약품 저장실에서 인슐린이 들어 있는 염분 앰풀 36회분이 발견됐으 며, 수사 관계자들은 누군가 이것을 고의로 만들어 최소 2개 병동의 환자들에게  투 여한 것으로 보고 있다.

테리 스위니 부지서장은 검시관의 소견에 따라 일련의 죽음이 모두 연관된 것으 로 보고 있지만 "현 상태로는 세 사람의 죽음이 모두 인슐린 과다 투여에 따른 것인 지 확신할 수 없다"며 다른 가능성을 열어놨다.

그는 "우리는 더 이상의 피해를 막고 범인에게 법의 심판을 받게 하려고 노력할 것"이라며 "직원과 환자, 방문객, 나아가 지역사회 등 병원과 관계된 모두가 안심하 길 바란다"고 말했다.

숨진 피해여성 트레이시 아르덴(44)의 남동생은 이날 인터뷰에서 트레이시가 죽 기 불과 몇 시간 전까지도 상태가 좋았고 그녀가 12년간 다발성 경화증을 앓았지만, 병원 방문은 일상적인 일이었다며 의문을 표시했다.

스테핑 힐 병원의 크리스 버크 원장은 직원들이 경찰조사에 협조하고 있으며 병 원 접근에 대한 보안을 강화하고 염분 앰풀을 모두 교체하는 등 환자 보호를 위해 경계를 철저히 하고 있다고 말했다.