Police say handcuffing the two ER doctors in the aftermath of the school boy’s death ‘could have been avoided’ while adding that their focus remains the investigation of the serious incident.
Two state hospital doctors in Larnaca were arrested over the weekend on suspicion of gross medical negligence, prompting various medical organisations and unions to condemn the use of handcuffs.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, police said they acted professionally in the case under a strict interpretation of the rules and regulations pertaining to such incidents.
Authorities were investigating allegations that the two doctors did not consult with the radiologist on duty before discharging 10-year-old Stavros Georgallis, who died of serious head trauma hours after he was released from hospital.
"Based on the specific case and considering all circumstances, it is something that could have been avoided"
"As far as the use of handcuffs goes when the two suspects were brought to court, it is our view, based on the specific case and considering all circumstances, it is something that could have been avoided," said police in their statement.
They were remanded in custody but are expected to go free as medical groups strongly criticised the arrest as unnecessary.
The Cyprus Medical Association spoke out first against the arrest of the two doctors, saying there was no need for them to be handcuffed, while saying the investigation ought to go forward and those responsible be held accountable.
But Pasyki state doctors union, which carried out a two-hour strike on Wednesday, said they were against the criminalisation of doctors on one hand but also were pushing their demands for what they view as better protection of state doctors’ rights.
In a written statement, Pasyki said the aim of the strike was twofold, protesting against the police and the health ministry for publicly arraigning the two doctors and issuing demands for reforming state hospitals.
Two other doctors have reportedly rendered their resignation in Larnaca General Hospital, although the couple cited family reasons. Media sources said their decision was not unrelated to the chaotic situation seen at times in state hospitals.
Minister says incident is seperate from public health problems
Pasyki doctors are asking for a series of reforms which they feel would provide for better organisation in state hospitals, as well as demanding stations with neurosurgeons and other specialisations be placed in all districts.
Officials responded to the demand, saying it was necessary for each distrcit to have its own department with neurosurgeons, since patients can be tranfered but also doctors can travel the short distance when necessary.
In Stavros’ case, the boy was sent home and later his mother brought him again to the Larnaca’s ER with severe pain. It was not until the second visit that doctors determined the boy needed surgery and had to be transported to Nicosia General Hospital. But it was too late and the boy didn’t make it.
An internal investigation was ordered immediately by Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou to ascertain whether any medical staff had violated any protocol during the visit in the Emergency Room at the Larnaca General Hospital.
State doctors said working conditions were to blame for the death but Ioannou said the connection being drawn was “most unfortunate” adding that the incident under investigation was separate from much needed reforms.