Hospital accident again puts spotlight on the problems faced by Romanian healthcare system.
In the middle of the
pandemic, Romania is in mourning because of a new tragedy. On Saturday night, a
number of patients diagnosed with Covid-19 burned alive at the County Emergency
Hospital in Piatra Neamț
(in the north-east of the country), in a fire that broke out in the intensive
care unit where they were being treated.
Witnesses say everything happened very fast: a syringe
pump connected to electricity and used to administer medication to the patients
caught fire. The protective suit of a nurse standing nearby also caught fire
and then the blaze spread quickly. The doctor on duty who tried to save the
patients was badly injured, suffering severe burns on 40% of his body and being
later taken to Bucharest to undergo surgery and then transferred to a hospital
Shortly after the tragedy occurred, a team of
prosecutors, police and fire experts began inquiries. The investigation is led
by Marius Iacob, the same prosecutor who coordinated the investigations into
the fire at the Colectiv nightclub in Bucharest five years ago, when 65 people
were killed, and at the Giuleşti maternity hospital in Bucharest in 2010 when
six prematurely born babies died and five others suffered severe burns.
The terrible accident in Piatra Neamţ once again
shows why the Romanian healthcare system needs profound change, said president
Klaus Iohannis, who conveyed his condolences to the grieving families. Unfortunately,
the pandemic has pushed the system to the limit, the president also said, and
technicians must make sure that the equipment used is working properly. He called
for the circumstances of the accident to be investigated quickly so as to
identity what went wrong and prevent similar situations in the future.
Prime minister Ludovic Orban has announced a series
of inspections at all intensive care units around the country:
"I have requested joint teams from the Public
Health Directorate, namely sanitary inspectors, and the county inspectorates
for emergency situations, namely firefighters, to carry out an assessment beginning
on Monday in all intensive care units and check all gas supplying installations
and whether they comply with the regulations in place with respect to patients
and staff safety in intensive care units."
Investigators into the
cause of the fire have already conducted searches and interviewed witnesses and
have begun to check the documents and approvals authorising the functioning of
the ward, all the more so as a number of changes were made recently to the
hospital's organisation, including in order to enhance the capacity of the
intensive care unit.