The 1st Department of the Greek State Council ratified a decision by the Administrative Court of Ioannina and awarded an indemnity for medical mistake to both parents, siblings, the grandfather and the grandmother of an infant of 4 months the amount of € 350,000.
The decision of the Administrative Court concerns mental anguish for relatives.
The courts agreed that there were omissions in the Hospital of Corfu which resulted for the infant to lose her life from pulmonary edema and document a case of medical error.
Crucial role for the court decision played the testimonies of two pediatrician expert witnesses. They proved to the judges that the doctors did not take the necessary measures to diagnose in time the illness the infant suffered from and in that way to prevent her death. They also did not do the radiological and cardiological examinations to detect the illness because none of the two on duty pediatricians "did not deal with the serious condition of the infant".
Apart from the civil court which dealt with the claim for compensation, there was a criminal legal process. The criminal courts found both pediatricians not guilty of the offence of manslaughter through negligence. The first doctor because she was in ' call of readiness ', which means that she could remain at home and go to the hospital if needed. However, she was never asked to go to the hospital.
The second pediatrician was acquitted of the same accusation, as she was at the hospital on a posting and not as part of the permanent organization and therefore she was not included in the scheduled duties. Consequently, it could not be claimed that she left her position and in such the infant helpless. The resident doctor was also acquitted.
The case developed as follows:
The tragic case of the infant began at the end of September 1998, when her parents brought her to the Hospital of Corfu (12 m.), unconscious, with cyanosis (her skin was the color of blue) and she vomited.
The infant was examined by two attending pediatricians of which one was of the Pediatric Department of the hospital and the second was from the local Health Center, who due to the operational needs of the hospital had been assigned to this Pediatric Department.
The infant during the examination showed "pallor, cyanosis, hypotonia, intense respiratory distress and possible aspiration". She became blood and urine tests, as well as chest radiograph and according to the radiologist there were no pathological findings.
After the exam she was resuscitated with oxygen and was connected to a monitor.
Despite all, she continued the breathlessness with 60 breaths per minute. Blood tests showed increased blood sugar 134 mg/dl (normal prices 75 to 115) and potassium 5 mEg/L (normal 2.5 to 5), while it was found that the left lung was not receiving enough air.
In the afternoon of the same day the infant presented cyanosis around her mouth and was moved into an oxygen tent, because the oxygen mask bothered her.
Two hours after midnight, as the resident doctor of the hospital noticed, since the two pediatricians on duty had left, the infant showed pronounced tachypnoea and the whole situation worsened.
The resident doctor contacted by telephone one of the pediatricians and then she granted the infant intravenous cortisone and inhalations with Aerolin.
The parents were asking anxiously the resident doctor for the condition of the child and the answers were always that her state was ‘stable’.
In the early hours the infant showed apnea, cyanosis around the mouth and asystole (inadequate contraction of the heart). Resuscitation was immediately started by an anesthesiologist. But, unfortunately, the infant died at 6.30.
The autopsy report states that death was not instantaneous and was caused by pulmonary edema of non-identifiable etiology, while it was found that during the opening of the chest the lungs were edematous and at the lobe of the left lung there were small Adhesions.
It was even more tragic that the little girl who died were twins with one boy, who the unlucky mother lost during childbirth!
The parents claimed that there were omissions from the two pediatricians and that they did not stay throughout their shift that crucial night, but departed and left the resident doctor monitor the infant, without proper instruction and knowledge.
That was why the resident physician did not diagnose in time the serious condition of the infant, to provide proper medical care, while failed to timely request the assistance of experienced doctors who were on duty that night, or the guidance of both pediatricians.