Patient organisations expressed outrage on Tuesday over allegations that an elderly person was found tied to their hospital bed using bedsheets.
Demanding the state health services (Okypy) investigate the matter, they also said there were damning complaints of lax Covid-19 measures, leading to elderly people contracting the virus.
Head of patients association Osak Marios Kouloumas demanded Okypy investigate the allegations immediately, stressing it was not the first time they had heard of people being tied to their bed.
“We don’t adopt the allegations but because we frequently hear such things, I think this should worry us all,” he said.
According to the relative that filed the complaint, the patient was tied to the bed because they were anxious, Kouloumas said.
“It’s not our job to investigate. We don’t have this kind of authority. We demand from Okypy to investigate though because we often get these kinds of complaints, so they need to take action.”
Kouloumas said other damning complaints include complete recklessness where elderly patients’ protection from Covid-19 is concerned.
There have been allegations that elderly people, who are a vulnerable group, are left in hospital wards next to other patients and relatives visit freely, crowding the ward with no-one wearing any masks.
As a consequence, a number of elderly people have contracted Covid, the allegations claim.
According to Osak, a number of complaints have been filed to Okypy and it is high time the organisation modernises itself, Kouloumas added.
In an interview with daily Philenews, Osak spokesman Charalambos Papadopoulos said that last week the organisation had been informed by relatives, of elderly patients in a pathology ward being tied to their beds.
“We investigated and confirmed [the claim]. Although we cannot give more details at present, we can say that it did not concern just a single bound patient,” Papadopoulos told Philenews.
At the same time, the Osak representative said, a complaint was received from the daughter of an elderly woman co-hospitalised in a pathology ward with three other patients.
According to the complaint, visitors were permitted to enter the room on two consecutive days and stay for over an hour-and-a-half, without using masks. According to the complainant, on the third day she was informed at midday that she could not visit her mother, as one of the other inpatients had contracted Covid.
The woman asked if her mother would be moved and was told it would be done immediately, however, this was not done until nighttime, and her mother subsequently also contracted the virus.
“These are attitudes that will eventually break public hospitals,” Papadopoulos said, adding that he hoped that the publication of these claims would result in discussion beyond “fights about staffing and understaffing.”
Confining a patient to their bed is a decision that should require psychiatric evaluation, Papadopoulos stated, and just because a patient is anxious this does not mean they should be confined, especially when elderly, and thus at risk of developing bedsores.
The argument that understaffing requires certain practices so staff can cope is unacceptable, he added.
The patient representative called on Okypy to assume its responsibilities and visit wards, saying that although incidents such as these may not occur in all departments, or be widely representative of staff attitudes, they do exist.
“Those who cannot serve their role as a nurse or doctor or other healthcare professional, should not be in a hospital,” Papadopoulos declared, pointing out that it cannot be that so many public complaints are false.
Although it may not be immediately clear who is responsible on paper and an investigation is warranted, the responsibility lies with all the health workers in a room, not only with those holding the official authority, Papadopoulos said.