Deaths and mutilations ‘scandal’ at Amadora-Sintra: surgical team threaten walkout

Surgeons ‘upset’ over disciplinary processes; want whistleblowers ‘out’

The controversy exposed by the complaints of two surgeons of allegedly needless deaths and ‘mutilations’ at the hands of the surgical team of Amadora-Sintra hospital has seen the opening of three disciplinary processes – and the threat by surgeons of a walkout.

Explain reports, the surgeons want the whistleblowers (effectively two of their own) ‘out’. If not, they say they will stop working.

At least, that is the gist of headlines today.

It turns out that the ‘threat’ has not been backed by all members of the surgical team. Expresso explains a petition has been raised in this regard, signed by “almost all” members of the team, including the three surgeons against whom the hospital has lodged disciplinary processes over what has been termed a “bad surgical option”.

To recap on this story, it began with the complaints by two surgeons working at the hospital about ‘deaths and mutilations’ due to what they believed were failings within Amadora-Sintra’s surgical department.

The complaints related to 22 ‘botched’ cases in which patients either died, and/ or were subjected to unnecessary procedures and therefore endured needless suffering.

Various inquiries were instigated, the only one of which has been reported on being that of the Ordem dos Médicos (General Medical Council), which found one ‘concrete’ case of bad practice, and several incidents where “bad decisions were made, but the medical procedures carried out correctly”.

This latter finding may have been a phrased with diplomatic finesse, but it did not succeeding in detracting from the fact that clearly the whistleblowers had valid concerns.

As far as colleagues are concerned, however, their concerns have not been in the least bit helpful. 

A meeting at the hospital yesterday – pointedly excluding the two whistleblower surgeons – saw the hospital’s director “ask for the help of the Ordem dos Médicos to find a response to the ultimatum of a collective resignation”, writes Expresso.

The council’s soon-to-be-outgoing leader Miguel Guimarães said this kind of mediation is not his entity’s responsibility.

Meantime, the hospital has made all efforts to stress that the Ordem’s inquiry found “no evidence of generalised malpractice, or violation of ‘leges artis’ (good medical practices according to current scientific knowledge).

Among situations assessed, says the hospital, a situation was identified in which it may be considered that a “bad surgical option” had been taken, “which may constitute malpractice” – a situation that the hospital publicly regrets and which it says it will seek to fully clarify, in collaboration with the competent authorities.

In a video message sent to Lusa, the clinical director of the HFF, Ana Valverde, said that the medical expert who collaborated with the hospital in the investigation concluded that this case could configure a “malpractice”.

“The Hospital sincerely regrets this situation and, as previously stated, the investigations were taken to the last consequences and hence the instauration of disciplinary proceedings against the surgeons who participated in the surgical act signalled in the expert report presented by the Ordem dos Médicos”, she said, stressing that the processes will allow the surgeons involved to “prepare their defence.

“In health we deal daily with complicated disease situations and in advanced stages, but we have absolute confidence in the professionals of our hospital, who every day do their best in accordance with good medical practice,” she added.

Indeed, 2022 saw the hospital perform more than 17,900 surgeries, thus in Ana Valverde’s opinion it is “essential to ensure the restoration of the good name” of the hospital and “of all those who daily perform their professional activity in this institution”.

[email protected]