Congressional Health Committee opens investigation into cases of medical negligence

The president of Peru’s Congressional Health Committee, Hilda Guevara, said Monday that Congress will investigate recent cases of medical negligence in public hospitals, private clinics, and the National Children’s Health Institute.

Guevara said the committee has summoned the president of Peru’s state-owned health insurance system Essalud, Fernando Barrios, the director of the National Children’s Hospital, Roberto Shimabuko, the head of the national insurance regulator, Luis Huarachi, and the director of Sabogal Hospital, José Arriola, to testify at a hearing on Tuesday, according to daily El Comercio.

“Citizens who use these services have a right to receive compensation when they are injured, disabled or killed due to negligence by doctors, technicians, or their assistants,” said Guevara.

Health officials announced last week that two doctors at the Alberto Sabogal Hospital in the port city of Callao, just north of Lima, had been suspended after they had mistakenly amputated the wrong foot of an 86-year-old man, Radio Programas Peru reported. Jorge Villanueva was scheduled for an emergency surgery to remove his right foot to prevent an infection from spreading however surgeons amputated his left foot by mistake.

Following media coverage of Villanueva’s amputations, other patients say they have also been victims of medical negligence at the Sabogal Hospital. A 72-year-old woman said she contracted a virus when she was admitted to the hospital in 2006. Doctors were forced to amputate her legs and an arm.

The family of a 38-year-old woman said they are pressing charges against the former head of the hospital’s surgery department following a stomach reduction operation in 2008 that left their daughter in a vegetative state.

Allegations of medical negligence were reported by patients and their family at other hospitals last week. At the National Children’s Health Institute, for instance, the parents of a 6-year-old boy said their son died after doctors prescribed a laxative. The boy’s father, José René Cruz, told Peru.21 the hospital reported his son’s official death as a heart attack, however he overhead doctors saying his son died from blood poisoning.

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