An ER doctor has been found guilty and a medical director acquitted in the death of a young student, whose fatal head injury during gym class in Larnaca had gone unnoticed after an X-Ray at the hospital.
After a long and protracted trial, a Larnaca criminal court on Friday convicted Iraklis Pantelidakis, a temporary Emergency Room medical doctor at Larnaca General Hospital, on medical negligence charges.
Pandelidakis, a dual British-Cypriot resident within the state’s GESY network, was found guilty in the death of 10-year-old Stavros Georgallis, who died in May 2018 after injuring his head while playing basketball during gym class.
Another doctor, ER medical director Kyriacos Kyriakides, was acquitted of criminal charges.
Both doctors, who denied the charges, had decided to discharge the boy into his mother’s care, a registered nurse, without ever consulting with the radiologist on duty according to what was said in court.
'The very minimum expected of an average doctor would be to review carefully the x-ray and take into account the injury he had in front of him'
An X-Ray taken at the hospital was not studied carefully according to prosecutors, who said Pantelidakis ought to have reviewed the information for more than just a few seconds.
“The very minimum expected of an average doctor would be to review carefully the x-ray and take into account the injury he had in front of him,” the court said.
Kyriakides, who was the supervisor, had told investigators he made no medical decision in the boy’s case but was simply asked by his colleague to view the X-Ray.
It was unclear whether one doctor concurred with the other, but both medical professionals were said to have determined there had been no signs of internal damage of the inner ear following an otoscopic examination.
But the court found Pantelidakis acted in a medically negligent manner when he elected to forego expert opinion on the X-Ray, which “illustrated a fracture line.”
“The possibility that Stavros had sustained a serious injury was real,” the court found, after prosecutors said there was a strong blow to the head, transient auditory loss, and ringing in the ear.
“He did not study the X-Ray, he discharged Stavros,” the court said.
The boy was discharged from the hospital and the mother called the school principal just before noon to say “the kid is fine” and they would go home in Klavdia.
But Stavros started to feel dizzy and was complaining of ear pain, with mother and son driving back to the ER where the doctors determined Stavros needed to go into surgery. The boy was then rushed immediately to Nicosia General Hospital where he passed away.
The judges found that the initial discharge resulted to a failure to treat the incident appropriately from the very beginning.
But the medical director was acquitted of criminal charges after the court found that he did not in fact study the X-Ray.
“As he did not take a look at the X-Ray, he was not in a position to make a false reading, so he was not part of a start of any causation of events that led to Stavros’ death,” the court ruled regarding Kyriakides.
“Also, he did not examine Stavros, he took no active part in the incident,” according to the bench.
The exact circumstances at the school where Stavros was injured were never fully clarified after state teachers union POED criticized authorities for leaking information about the gym teacher who was described in the media as a “problem educator.”
POED officials were also criticized when they went to the school to consult with the teacher in question before he could speak to officials about the incident, prompting the education ministry to condemn the union representatives and the educators firing back accusing the government of intimidation at the workplace.
Pantelidakis will appear before the court again on May 26 while his sentencing day will be scheduled at a later date.