Cyprus state doctors see some differences in treatment between public and private sectors as normal
State doctors disagree with a private orthopedic over a boy’s treatment, following his injuries on his feet at a Nicosia school that reignited a debate over public hospital treatment.
The incident took place at a Nicosia high school, when a 14-year-old student fell from the first floor injuring his feet and ankles. It was not clear how the fall occurred, but an internal report was concluded and delivered to the education minister last week.
Despite the boy getting a number of medical exams and treatment in public hospitals, his mother took him to a private doctor who determined the boy needed additional care and deferred him back to state care.
The student then underwent further medical tests at Makarios Chidren’s Hospital in Nicosia the following day, with several bruises on his body including signs of a concussion. But the Health Ministry issued a statement clarifying that additional tests were being conducted as a precaution.
Days later, the boy’s both lower feet and ankles were in a cast.
A parents association statement later expressed concern over the fact that there was a difference of opinion in how the boy should have been treated.
“Who is responsible for the ongoing hassle for the student, who had to turn to a private clinic in order to get a correct diagnosis?” the association asked in their statement.
Different schools of thought
The association also criticised Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou for statements he had made when he spoke of “unfounded allegations on the part of the parents association” in a response to the group’s online claims that the state medics had not done their job properly.
But public doctors told daily Kathimerini on Wednesday the student had undergone all proper procedures during the diagnosis and treatment stages, including a precautionary 24-hour stay in the hospital despite there being no risks to his health.
Kathimerini says the doctors attribute the use of a cast to a different school of thought within the medical field, suggesting the private orthopedic wanted to restrict feet movement to help recovery.
The state medics also clarified that advising a patient to use walking crutches or make careful movements until recovery is just another proper treatment.
Public health under scrutiny
The incident received public attention as it occurred around the same time when another student in Larnaca died following a head injury.
Stavros Georgallis, aged 10, struck his head on the concrete surface of a basketball court and died hours later, on May 11, after his mother had taken him to the ER twice but a team of doctors failed to diagnose the extent of his injury, namely internal bleeding, until it was too late.
Police were also criticised and later apologised for arresting the two doctors and dragging them in handcuffs to court, as a bigger debate ensued regarding protocols in state hospitals and schools as well as reform challenges in both health and education systems.