1 de ago. de 2012

Suspended sentences for doctors in clinic's baby deaths case - LEGIONELLA

By Natalie HamiPublished on July 17, 2012

FOUR doctors implicated in the deaths of three newborn babies from Legionnaires’ disease at the Hippocration private hospital in Nicosia in 2008 were yesterday sentenced by Nicosia District Court to three months’ imprisonment suspended for three years.
They were also issued fines: €8000 for Constantinos Kastanos, former general manager of the hospital and €1800 for three maternity ward doctors of the hospital implicated in the case; Odysseas Athanatos, Vasilios Makris and Christos Riris.
The charges related to the hospitalisation of 11 infants and the death of three, all born at the clinic in December 2008.
They had pleaded guilty to failing to follow maintenance regulations, leading to the water distribution system becoming infected with the deadly bacteria.
The judge’s decision took into account that from 2006 when the clinic was renovated, tests to detect the possible spread of the bacteria in the water system had not been carried out. However Judge Natalie Talaridou-Kontopoulou stressed that ‘the accused and no one….could have foreseen the particular chain of events that led to the death of three newborns.’
Eleven infants born between December 18 and 22, 2008, were admitted to the intensive care unit of Makarios state hospital in Nicosia a few days following their release from the Hippocration.
They were diagnosed with pneumonia, caused by Legionnaires’ disease.
Three died and one was put on a respirator due to severe pneumonia although the baby recovered and was later released from hospital. It was reported that the parents of one of the three babies who died had been trying to conceive for 15 years, eventually celebrating the birth of their long-anticipated baby after numerous IVF attempts.
The deaths provoked public outrage, after it emerged that the killer bacteria were found in a humidifier as well as parts of the Hippocration’s water distribution system – all because the appropriate maintenance measures had not been taken.
“There was no witness testimony that the accused knew that the water system had been infected in this way,” said Talaridou-Kontopoulou.
Talaridou-Kontopoulou clarified that they are guilty of the charges that they had admitted to because they were obligated to know about the problem and to avoid it. “If they had taken all the necessary measures then the patients of the clinic would be treated in a safe and healthy environment,” she said.
She added that their neglect was not due to carelessness or indifference but to poor risk assessment, adding that the accused did not ignore recommendations on the issue of Legionnaires since such inspections did not take place regularly by the state.
With reference to the sentence imposed on them, Talaridou-Kontopoulou said that the seriousness of the offences along with other mitigating factors such as the characters of the accused were taken into consideration.
They received a suspended prison sentence because of their ages, 52, 65, 74 and 71 respectively, according to the judge, who added that they did not have to be imprisoned immediately to realise the seriousness of their behaviour, despite the level of neglect.

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