Psychiatric patient dies after being assaulted by male nurse


A patient at a psychiatric hospital has died after being assaulted by a male nursing assistant, police said Wednesday.

The 69-year-old patient, admitted for psychiatric care at Seimo Hospital in Tomioka, was reportedly left unconscious after being repeatedly punched, TBS quoted police as saying.

The male nurse, identified as 23-year-old Kei Hirokawa, was arrested on Tuesday night. Police said he assaulted the man at around 7 p.m. on Sunday. The victim was left in a coma following the attack and passed away on Tuesday night, police said.

During police questioning, Hirokawa was quoted as saying that he became exasperated by the patient struggling and lashing out whenever he tried to help him or change his diapers.

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Hirokawa was quoted as saying that he became exasperated by the patient struggling and lashing out whenever he tried to help him or change his diapers.

Geez, why the hell did he become a nurse?!

4 ( +7 / -3 )

It has happened on numerous occasions in UK care homes, esp. with dementia patients, and will no doubt become more common in Japan as the population ages further, and carers become less caring.

The modern world, both society and medicine, is ill-equipped to take care of their growing elderly populations, and needs a huge shift in thinking and attitude to improve their care.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Geez, why the hell did he become a nurse?!

Because that has been the recommended profession for youngsters in the last few years, due to the rising number of elderly requiring care. They are assured of a job, aren't they. Nothing to do with his desire to take care of people in need - even if that was his initial motivation.

23 is way, way too young to be left in sole responsibility of such a patient. The hospital is at fault too, for not monitoring the guy.

14 ( +15 / -1 )

MariaMay. 08, 2013 - 04:04PM JST

The hospital is at fault too, for not monitoring the guy.

I don't understand how you can come to that conclusion from the limited information in this article.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

@Tahoochi - a fair point.

I made such a conclusion based on a young man (a year or so out of training), left alone with an elderly and difficult patient, having trouble controlling his frustration to the point of beating up the patient instead of asking for extra help.

Nobody was in the vicinity to hear or see what was happening, or if they were, they let things get so out of hand that the old man was put into a coma.

Was discipline was meted out to the young man by the hospital before police were called?

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Over the forty years or so that I've been teaching English in Japan, I've come across many psychiatrists and mental health "professionals." Their opinion - uniform in every case - is that those doctors and nurses who choose psychiatry from the beginning are extremely rare. Most of them enter the psychiatric profession because "it's so unpopular they'll take anybody."

Nobody, apparently wants to be a psych. I asked why and got this answer, "Doctors would like to be a surgeon or specialist if possible because the perks are great. No one wants to be a psych because a) none of the patients gets well and b) psychiatric hospital is a place for family members whom no one wants to take responsibility for."

I can't speak for other countries, but this seems to be the case in Japan.

"Shove (insert unwanted relative) off to the funny farm. They'll pump so much happy juice into him, he won't know whether it's Thursday or 10 o'clock."

In spite of my attempts to prevent it, my brother-in-law was one of these. He committed hara kiri while under psychiatric "care."

5 ( +6 / -1 )

In no way am I condoning this young guy's actions, but if this old fella was prone to violence he should have been restrained and/or sedated, which leads me to support Maria's comment. Obviously, this hospital is running on minimal staff otherwise there would have been two or three orderlies on hand to assist the nurse.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Insufficient nursing staff in hospitals and care facilities can also mean that nurses work horrendous shifts. Changing adult diapers aside, I can only imagine how difficult it must be to have to deal with violent or otherwise troublesome patients on top of sleep deprivation. I'm sure even the saintliest of nurses have a tipping point. There's obviously a lot more to this story than meets the eye.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

the assault must have been very violent to actually kill

0 ( +1 / -1 )

the assault must have been very violent to actually kill

A push, a swing, a loss of balance, and head knock on the corner of a set of drawers could be fatal. In this case it says, "repeated blows" but keep in mind, humans can be surprisingly fragile.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

A nurse that shouldn't exercise profession that is involving humans. Now that patient is death the nurse can take his place.

-8 ( +0 / -8 )

I dont know anything beyond what is written about the circumstances of this case but I do know that in general nurses in Japan work ridiculous hours for crap pay and bullying is rife. Nurses are only human like the rest of us and without the right support I can absolutely see how this could happen. The kid was 23. Nursing college is 2 (or 4) years. He was barely out of training, and handling patients like this alone. No excuses for him, but can see how this could happen.

5 ( +6 / -1 )


That is a great description Bertie. I totally believe it. There seems to be a revulsion on all levels to psyche problems in Japan from my observation too. There used to be a psyche hospital out by Kintai Bridge. We'd break out the good looking crazy ladys and party with them... Long time ago in the 70's when we (the U.S. military) pretty much had free reign of the place and didn't have to put up with this goody-goody-keep-the-host-happy-restricted-to-base malarky. I remember, there were like very few nurses.... attendants at the place. Years later, after I did the stupid and cross decked many times to stay I dated a nurse/ attendant that worked at the hospital. Gosh, was my reaction. I wondered whey she worked there with all the vitriolic vomit she'd spew about her job. I didn't date her long to say the least.

I have a friend how who is in Japan and having pscyhe/ emotional issues. They just keep her medicated and in a stupor. There is no therepay... just medication and it just keeps her in a cloud. Yet, she won't do anything different, just followd the doctor's ordres blindly like a sheep, or lemming,,... cause he is the doctor. 40 years teaching English in Japan??? (shivers with ...)

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Nurse or Nursing Assistant?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This kind of story makes me really mad.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

We all know how seriously the Japanese treat people with psychological illnesses.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Hirokawa, goto Hell!!!!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

As some one who has worked with elderly psychiatric patients for about 26 years there is no excuse for the nurses behaviour . When a patient becomes abusive or aggressive you turn round and walk away to allow you both to calm down you would also use the chance to ask collegues for help and assistance . Yes at times especially at the end of a very long shift they can become very frustrating and annoying but you have to remember it is not personal ,it is part of their medical condition and they are confused and frightened so you step back take a deep breath and try different approaches with them unlike with genral nursing the most important skill you will have on the psychiatric side is your ability to form theraputic relationships with your patient and while yes l can understand and appreciate how the nurse felt there is still no excuse for his actions .

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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