Probe over doctors’ labour room brawl in Italy

August 30th, 2010 - 2:24 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Aug 30 (IANS) A probe was launched after a child in Italy was born with brain damage as doctors attending on the mother who had gone into labour came to blows over the need for a caesarean section, a media report said Monday.
Laura Salpietro, 30, had her womb removed after the birth. Her husband claims this took place almost an hour and a half late because of the brawl, The Guardian reported.

Her son had two heart attacks shortly after the birth and is still in a drug-induced coma.

Both doctors have been suspended, and the incident, at the Policlinico Hospital, in Messina last Thursday, is the subject of four investigations — by the hospital authorities, a local prosecutor, the regional health authority, and the ministry of health in Rome.

One of the doctors involved and the head of the hospital’s obstetrics department have denied a link between the fight and the subsequent events.

But the woman’s husband, Matteo Molonia, said there had been no previous hint of complications. “The sonographic scans and clinical examinations had ruled out any health problems for my wife and son,” he said.

He told the Ansa news agency: “My wife was already in the labour room when her gynaecologist, who followed her pregnancy, and another doctor began to argue. The dispute erupted when her personal gynaecologist suggested a caesarean and the other objected.”

Italy has one of the world’s lowest rates of maternal mortality, but also has one of the highest rates of caesarean section, amounting to 38 percent of all births.

The World Health Organisation’s target rate is 15 percent. It has been argued that one reason for that anomaly is the relatively limited use of epidurals in Italy, which discourages women from vaginal deliveries.

But most explanations focus on the fact that caesareans are more profitable for doctors and make for easier planning for hospital administrators.

According to Italian media accounts, Salpietro’s gynaecologist, Antonio De Vivo, punched his hand through a window after his collar was grabbed by the second doctor.

Asked for a comment, De Vivo later said: “I merely say that in this matter I am the wronged party and I was attacked.”

Molonia, 37, a private detective, was quoted as saying he saw De Vivo leave the labour room with blood dripping from his hand. “There is a gap that goes from 7.40 a.m., when the row blew up, to nine o’clock, when they operated on my wife. Why did all that time go by?”

The other doctor, Vincenzo Benedetto, said there had been “exaggeration by the media”, and that “everything happened with the greatest speed”.

He said the complications at the birth were due to a “pre-existing pathology”. The head of the obstetrics unit, Domenico Granese, said that the complications at the birth of Salpietro’s child occurred “not because of the row or because of any delay”.

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