September 21, 2005

Outrage as children die in Sicilian hospitals

PALERMO, Sicily (Reuters) - A 12-year-old girl became the
third child to die this month after seemingly routine
operations in Sicilian hospitals, sparking calls for public
health centres to be shut down.

The girl, Miriam Bucolo, suffered a hemorrhage hours after
surgeons removed her appendix on Wednesday, investigative
sources said.

Her parents went to the police in the province of Messina.
The regional heath authorities also opened an investigation.

A boy, also 12, died on Monday after being given an
anesthetic before an appendix operation, in the city of Messina
in the same province, but in a different hospital.

And earlier this month a nine-month-old boy, Francesco
Paolo Spoto, died in Palermo after being given an anesthetic
before an operation for what media said was a cleft lip.

Italy's Health Minister Francesco Storace telephoned the
Sicilian health director to request a "detailed report about
similar episodes in Sicily recently."

Consumer rights advocates Codacons said in a statement on
its Web site "The first thing that
needs to be done is to immediately close all of the hospitals
in Messina, at least until the causes of death are

The group, Italy's main consumer association, called on
authorities to "shed light on how people are dying in
hospitals, where instead they should be cured."

The baby boy's family was shocked to hear that more
Sicilian children had died after going under the knife.

"I can't believe it. It's really happened again? What's
going on," Francesco's mother, Maria Grazia la Cara, was quoted
as saying by Italian media.