This article originally appeared on VICE Romania
Last week a particularly gruesome video was leaked to Romanian media, showing several maggots in an open wound close to a patient's ear. The man had suffered severe burns and was hospitalised in a burn unit in Bucharest.
The video was leaked by Camelia Roiu – an anaesthesiologist at Spitalul de Arși, where the patient was admitted – who told newspaper Gazeta Sporturlor: "What's the point in hiding what's really going on? What's worse – to let the public know about the horrible conditions we work in or to live with not having done anything to change them?" She also claims that there were flies flying around the intensive care unit, where she shot the video. The patient died one day after the video was released.
"The maggots were not the cause of the patient's death and, of course, we removed them from the wound," the hospital's spokesperson Dr. Adrian Stănculea told Romanian television station Antena 3. "The footage is real – I can't deny that. The patient had four or five larvae in the burn wounds on the side of his face. The wound was covered with dead tissue, which can't be washed easily – if you aren't careful, you could end up with an ear in your hand. Those areas were washed very delicately."
But Camelia Roiu claims there have been other cases of larvae infecting patients' wounds in the same unit. She has encouraged her colleagues to speak out but the response has been mixed. "Some of my colleagues think I should shut up but others are professionals. I appreciate that," said Roiu according to hotnews.ro. "Those who don't want to admit what's going on should remember that, as doctors, it is our duty to care for people."
In an interview with TV station Digi 24, the recently appointed Romanian Health Minister Vlad Voiculescu did not hesitate to accuse the hospital's management of negligence: "This is unacceptable. (...) surely someone could have taken some time out of their lunch break to put up a mosquito net," he said. He also said he hopes the doctor who filmed the incident cleaned the wound after putting her camera down.
The Romanian medical world has suffered a bunch of scandals recently. Less than a month ago, the same burn unit came under scrutiny when a patient died after she accidentally received a transfusion of the wrong blood type. In May 2016, an investigation showed that disinfectants used in most major hospitals' across Romania were being diluted to the point where they lost their effect. And in November 2015, 64 young people lost their lives in a fire in Bucharest's Colectiv club. An investigation by newspaper Gazeta Sporturilor revealed that the cause of some of those deaths were not the actual burns, but hospital infections.
The Spitalul de Arși intensive care unit was closed down after the larvae video was leaked. The Ministry of Health sent out a press release describing the measures the hospital will take to prevent this from happening again – like installing hand-sanitising stations at the entrance and exit of every ward, and hiring an outside firm to clean and disinfect the air conditioning. Phew.
More on VICE: