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Full inquiry to probe Paphos baby death

Photo archive: Paphos hospital

By Evie Andreou

AUTHORITIES pledged on Wednesday that any responsibility in the death of a baby in Paphos over the weekend will be assigned, as two separate investigations were underway into the incident that shocked the island.

“Pending the findings, I want to assure you of the health minister’s and the permanent secretary’s will, to assign any responsibility that may arise,” Health ministry permanent secretary Christina Yiannaki said.

The ministry has launched an administrative inquiry while a criminal probe by the police was already underway into the death of the baby, around 15 minutes after the birth of his twin brother at midnight last Friday.

The infant, a baby boy, whom doctors failed to detect during his mother’s twin pregnancy, died at birth, a post mortem has found, but the results of specialised tests will determine the exact cause.

Following the incident, the baby’s 22-year-old mother reported to the police that her attending gynaecologist at the Paphos general hospital had failed to diagnose the twin pregnancy. The woman said she was never aware she had been carrying twins.

The baby’s post mortem was carried out by state pathologists, Sophocles Sophocleous and Nicos Charalambous, with former state pathologist Marios Matsakis taking part on behalf of the family.

The health minister has already dismissed the female gynaecologist who had been employed on a temporary contract expiring in November.

The ministry’s investigation is expected to be completed by the end of August, while police were expected to wrap up their inquiry sometime next week.

Yiannaki said that during the administrative probe, they will go through all procedures that were followed in the case in question.

Matsakis, who was highly critical of the hospital, focusing on the state of its equipment, namely the two ultrasound scanners, reiterated on Wednesday that the information he possesses are from reliable sources and that the hospital has one state of the art ultrasound machine and one that is a much older model.

On Tuesday, during the state broadcaster’s main evening news show, Yiannaki had rejected Matsakis’ charges, saying Paphos hospital had two state of the art ultrasound machines.

“The term used for it, is that it is for scrap. It is unacceptable that the Paphos hospital does not have an adequate number of ultrasound machines to examine people properly,” Matsakis told the Cyprus Mail.

He added that he didn’t believe that it was the only factor that led to the hospital’s failure to detect the second baby.

Matsakis said the twin pregnancy could have been detected during labour.

He added that medicine is so advanced today that it is not possible for a second baby to be missed during labour.

Matsakis said it was the island’s health system that had a problem.

The Medical Association said in an announcement that it will do its best in cooperation with the health ministry to prevent such mistakes.

“Based on our scientific training we are able to deal and offer the best medical care to our patients, even under adverse conditions,” the announcement said.

The association stressed the importance of the implementation of the National Health Scheme which will ensure excellent conditions for patients, while maintaining decent employment conditions and recognition of the scientific training of its members.

It added that employment and the purchase of health services by the state based mainly on the financial aspect, and not on quality of service, “has short term risks for patients’ health, but also, in the long term, the state will bear additional financial and moral costs in dealing with possible unwanted complications”.

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