A major investigation is underway in Italy at a hospital where staff are suspected of performing unnecessary operations on patients, simply to win state funding. It is feared that as many as 25 patients may have died because of treatment they received at the Santa Rita Clinic in Milan.
Investigators believe that almost 100 unwarranted procedures took place, including a mastectomy on a 21-year-old woman and the removal of part of a pneumonia patient’s lung.
Many of the victims are believed to have died because they were too old or frail to survive surgery that was performed simply because more operations meant the hospital qualified for more government funds.
Two doctors have been arrested and detained on manslaughter charges. The owner of the clinic and 11 other members of staff are facing lesser charges, including causing bodily harm and fraud.
One former patient told reporters: “I haven’t been well since my operation. After two months the police contacted me and asked me if I’d been operated on and I said yes. They told me I shouldn’t have been because I was getting better.”
Another said she underwent surgery three times but has been limping for a year and a half. She said she only received a receipt for the first operation, for the other two she paid cash.
The Justice Ministry has been collating evidence since January 2007 when an anonymous tip-off prompted them to wire-tap the hospital’s phones.