published on January 10, 2017 in the Italian insider:
Doctors suspended for treating patients on hospital floor
By Florence Brock
NAPLES — The Italian Health Ministry sent inspectors to Santa Maria la Pietà hospital in Nola and suspended doctors after images of two patients lying on the floor waiting for emergency health care went viral on social networks, the hospital said Tuesday.
Following controversy over a video where a man is lying belly-up on a blanket near a doctor and another patient is rolled over on her side with nearby hospital machinery, Health Minister Beatrice Lorenzin sent NAS military police inspectors to the Nola hospital in the province of Naples Monday morning.
Later that day, the head of ASL (National Health System) Napoli 3 Sud Antonietta Costantini announced the suspension of the chief medical doctor Andrea De Stefano, head of the emergency room Andrea Manzi and head of medical emergency Felice Avella.
In a video filmed during the night between Saturday and Sunday, Dr. De Stefano immediately reacted to the viral images stating that attending to patients on the floor was better than not giving them any medical assistance at all.
“In the hospital, there are only fifteen gurneys, ten of which are located in emergency. On Saturday we had even taken two from ambulances in order to face the emergency situation at hand,” said De Stefano in reaction to the controversy.
“We assisted 311 people during that night, whereas we usually assist around 150-154 incoming people,” he went on to explain. “With adverse weather conditions complicating the situation many were forced to turn to us in Nola from the province of Avellino where iced travel conditions made going to other facilities next to impossible.”
“When people arrive to the emergency room, we certainly cannot turn them away. Over the weekend, we preferred giving them medical assistance on the floor as opposed to not assisting them at all,” he affirmed.
While he admits the footage did not depict the hospital in a good light, the chief also insisted that it was the only solution possible to face the proportion of the emergency at hand.
“One of the two patients in question was under cardiac arrest. What should we have done? Send the patient away? Doctors decided to defibrillate him on the floor to save his life, which they did. Due to a state of continued vomiting, the other was set on her side to avoid suffocating,” he concluded.
After reuniting all the ASL and hospital managers in Campaina and requesting an internal inspection yesterday, governor Vincenzo De Luca gave orders for the immediate dismissal of those responsible at the emergency room of the Nola facility.
Serving a population of 600,000 people in the district with 107 hospital beds available, the Nola hospital would need at least the double according to health regulations.
ASL officially stated that: “if there were so many patients in the emergency room, clearly something went wrong at a territorial level last weekend, and thus the hospital is not entirely at fault.”
“This episode has nonetheless damaged the hospital and its operators and three of our chief doctors have been suspended. It is important to underline that the emergency room doctors gave the patients the necessary care when they arrived at the hospital and they did not stop from doing so even under the great difficulties they were at the time andwork under on a daily basis. Further inspection of wrongdoing is currently underway and the doctors will exercise their right to defend themselves in order to avoid being fired,” the representative concluded.
Campania is not unused to inadequate health services. Having been put under compulsory administration in 2007, the region is still at the bottom of the LEA (National Assistance Levels) conducted by the Ministry of Health.
Resulting in the 101st position after the publication of the government survey in November 2016, the southern Italian territory still suffers for its health care. After service cuts that included the introduction of tickets, taxes and the elimination of fourteen thousand workers never replaced, Campania’s health debts have remained more or less the same.
President De Luca has claimed that the region’s goal is to be free of compulsory administration by the end of 2017.