Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Operating Room Fight!

"Only in Sicily!" That was the response of many disgusted Sicilians. It was almost too incredible to believe. Even in Sicily!

A few days ago two obstetricians at Messina's general hospital got into a fist fight (literally) during a delivery, leaving a newborn with possible brain damage and a mother without a uterus. The Italian health minister made a trip to Messina to decry the lack of professionalism - to say the least! - and to assure the public that a full investigation would be undertaken. He also visited the mother and baby, both in improving condition following their macabre experience. That the story made its way into the international press only made matters seem worse than they already were.

Essentially, what happened is that the pregnant woman's personal obstetrician, who was familiar with her condition, entered the hospital to assist the staff obstetrician. The latter resented having his opinion challenged regarding the necessity of a c-section and other treatment. Angry words were exchanged, with the staff physician telling the private one something to the effect that he was "nobody" within the walls of the hospital. The debate and actual physical confrontation consumed precious time needed to assist the patient giving birth and complications ensued.

For now, one of the physicians, a state employee, has been suspended pending the investigation. There will probably be a civil suit as well, but in Italy suing a public hospital for malpractice is practically impossible. This is one of many flaws in the health care system Italians claim is "superior" to that of the United States - and when have you ever heard of two American doctors coming to blows during an operation?!?!

The health minister is absolutely correct to cite the total lack of professionalism - a serious problem in Italy but especially in Sicily. Incompetent lawyers, accountants, engineers and architects are the norm on our island. You can imagine the situation in less regulated fields like marketing and teaching. An unprofessional or incompetent accountant may cost you some money; a mediocre physician could cost you your life!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The problem in America isn't necessarily the quality of the care, but rather access to it. This is the dort of thing our Republican party will grab on to to prove the supposed "superiority" of our system, but if having your cancer treated leaves your family on the street and bankrupt...