An 87-year-old woman with a fractured femur died at the Nicosia general hospital after 10 hours of waiting for an orthopaedic doctor to tend to her injury, her son claimed to Spyros Constantinou told Sigma TV on Friday night.
The health ministry asked the hospital’s management for an incident report. Responding to a man complaining on Twitter about “people dying of broken legs in our hospitals”, Health Minister George Pamboridis urged restraint. “You are absolutely right,” he told the outraged man. “But please, before condemning anyone, let us make sure what happened exactly that caused a person’s death.”
According to Constantinou, his mother was taken to the emergency room around 2pm Thursday by him and his sister, after she suffered a fall. X-ray examination showed the woman, Mary, had suffered a broken femur, and she was asked to wait for an orthopaedic doctor.
At around 5pm, she was finally taken to the orthopaedics ward, but the doctor was still not available. “I waited,” the son said on Sigma TV. “I asked where the doctor is, and was told she is in surgery, there was an urgent incident, but she would come as soon as she was done.”
At this point, Mary started complaining that her stomach hurt and said she felt a burning sensation. “During all the waiting, my mother said she had pain in her stomach, and that she was on fire,” Spyros narrated. “I touched her forehead and it was cold, but she kept saying she felt she was burning.”
The nursing staff, he added, gave her painkillers, and kept urging the family to be patient until the doctor arrived. Around midnight, Mary died.
“Imagine holding your mother’s hand and watching her die,” Spyros said. “I called the nurses to do a cardiogram, and the reading was 48.”
The ward was immediately flooded by doctors and nurses, but it was too late, Sigma reported.
Shortly afterward, at around 1am Friday, the orthopaedic doctor arrived. “Why did you come now, my mother is dead, I told her,” Spyros said.
“She said, ‘Sir, I was done with the surgery at 11pm and I went home, I just got a call and came back’. My mother was in pain on the bed, and we were told that the doctor would come straight from surgery.”
Spyros said he plans to lodge a formal complaint, even if his mother’s death is found to be unconnected to her leg injury, because it might have been prevented if a doctor had seen her during the 10-hour wait.