Assistant nurse arrested for tearing off hospital patient's nails in repeat offense


An assistant nurse has been arrested for tearing off the nails of an elderly woman under her care at a hospital in Kyoto.

Police said Saturday that the woman, who has been identified as Akemi Sato, 37, is accused of tearing out the finger and toenails of an 80-year-old inpatient suffering from senile dementia at Mori hospital where she worked.

According to Sankei Shimbun, Sato was arrested for a similar crime once before in January of 2006. She was imprisoned for three years and eight months after she was found to have injured six patients in 2004 by tearing out 49 of their finger and toenails. The patients were all immobile after strokes or other illnesses. The Kyoto district court said the woman had committed the cruel acts to relieve stress she was under from extra work forced on her by her supervisors.

After being released, Sato found employment at the Kyoto hospital in early August, where her job was to change bedsheets and adult diapers. On Aug 24, a coworker noticed blood on the foot of an elderly patient. An internal investigation was launched, at which point Sato confessed to tearing out the woman’s nails.

According to the Sankei report, the hospital revealed that based on her resume, they believed Sato to be an experienced and capable nurse. The hospital said it did not know of her earlier conviction. However, after employing her, a hospital spokesperson said her work was nout up to standard and she was ordered to work under supervision at all times.

A spokesperson said she had been called in by her superiors for disciplining and retraining several times. Coworkers also recount that she seemed to have a problem with authority and
didn’t get on well with her superiors.

Police said that several other patients at the hospital were found to have had nails removed, but have not said if Sato was responsible.

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