Surgery

Allegations of “deaths and mutilations” caused by surgical team at Amadora-Sintra hospital

Investigations ongoing into 22 separate allegations of malpractice

Two surgeons at Fernando Fonseca hospital – better known as Amadora-Sintra – have reported cases of “deaths and mutilations”, allegedly due to serious errors by the surgical team. 

Their allegations are being investigated by independent experts appointed by the General Medical Association (Ordem dos Médicos), reports Expresso – as well as by IGAS, the general health inspectorate.

According to Expresso’s exclusive, the surgeons’ first written complaint was filed three months ago, in October 2022. 

Initially, 17 patients were referred to, but the number rose to 22 at the end of November.

According to the original complaint (sent to the General Medical Association), one of the complainants stated that the issue is not related to “one doctor in particular”, but is “systemic”. 

He wrote that he felt it is his duty “ethically, professionally, personally and as a citizen to alert to situations of serious loss of life, and quality of life, with unnecessary, avoidable mortality and mutilations, resulting from the provision of care to patients that does not coincide with legis artis” (correct treatment).

“Beyond the alleged mortality and unjustified morbidity, doctors have referred to other situations of supposed negligence”, writes Expresso.

“In one complaint made to responsible clinicians of the hospital another doctor claims there are “many other cases of a lesser gravity” with patients ‘lost’ in general surgery, evaluated by young volunteer doctors without experience who, although doing their best, were barely corrected or guided”.

As for the cases ‘identified in the complaint’, they include a male patient, aged around 60, operated on his spleen without having been scheduled for surgery, who died “covered in blood following almost 15 transfusions”.

There was also another patient, around the same age, who underwent pancreas surgery because of suspicions of a tumour (that did not in fact exist). The man was “hospitalised for a long time, with complications and further surgery”. 

The doctors also allege that “various” patients were submitted to cancer surgeries (“when it turned out they didn’t have cancer”); one patient even being referred for radiotherapy when he/ she had no tumor.

Picking up this story, SIC television news describes a patient operated for a hernia who “ended up dying of peritonitis due to a lesion in the intestine, treated by a new surgery which only took place several days after it was evident through analysis that something was not right”. 

There was also the case of a patient operated on for a hernia, who, after surgery, was found still to have it. The surgeon “refused to perform a new intervention”.

The description of cases allegedly poorly diagnosed/ incorrectly treated have been ‘acknowledged’ by Amadora-Sintra’s hospital administration board, which confirms that it received the “written denunciation of alleged malpractice in the General Surgery Service” on October 6 last year. 

According to Expresso, the board “immediately decided to open an inquiry process to ascertain the facts and possible responsibilities”.

The General Medical Association and IGAS were notified of the situation.

“On 26 October 2022, the General Medical Association indicated an expert doctor for the opening of a ‘prior investigation procedure’, which is ongoing,” hospital officials have said.

IGAS has also acknowledged that it too has opened “a process of a disciplinary nature to ascertain the facts and is awaiting the results of the investigations carried out”. 

In a preliminary investigation of the first 10 cases, IGAS has told Expresso that “there was no violation of legis artis“.

The General Medical Council however is “maintaining silence”, while dossiers with more than 500 pages are analysed.

natasha.donn@portugalresident.com