Cannizzaro Hospital where Valentina died
Three doctors were acquitted, and four were sentenced to six months each for manslaughter, though with suspended sentences. This was the verdict of the Criminal Court of Catania in the trial of seven doctors from the Gynaecology and Obstetrics Department of the Cannizzaro Hospital, concerning the death of Valentina Milluzzo, a 32-year-old woman hospitalised in her 19th week of pregnancy, who died on 16 October 2016, after having lost, as a result of two separate miscarriages, the twins she was expecting thanks to assisted fertilisation.
Acquitted, on the grounds that “the facts do not exist” (to find them guilty), were Paolo Scollo, Head Doctor of the Gynaecology and Obstetrics Department, Andrea Benedetto Distefano, the ward doctor, and Francesco Paolo Cavallaro, the anesthesiologist.
Sentenced to six months each in prison, suspended, were the doctors Silvana Campione, Giuseppe Maria Alberto Calvo, Alessandra Coffaro and Vincenzo Filippello, who were “on duty in the ward and in the delivery room, on alternating shifts” between 15 and 16 October 2016. The Court also ordered the payment of a provisional amount of € 30,000 to the victim’s sister, Angela Maria Milluzzo, who had become a civil party in the suit, assisted by lawyer Salvatore Catania Milluzzo.
According to the prosecution, the four doctors were guilty of “contributing, in cooperation between them, to the death of the pregnant woman” who had been hospitalised because of the serious risk during the miscarriage of her twin pregnancy.
The Public Prosecutor’s Office accused the four doctors of “professional negligence” due to “imprudence, negligence and incompetence”. In particular, “the failure to implement adequate antibiotic therapy” on both the 14th and 15th of October, “the failure to promptly recognise sepsis in progress”, “the failure to collect samples for microbiological examination”, “the failure to promptly remove the source of the infection: the fetuses and placentas” and “the failure to administer blood transfusion during surgery”.
All the above described events, said the Public Prosecutor of Catania, would have caused the “transformation of sepsis into irreversible septic shock with consequent multiple organ failure and disseminated intravascular coagulation”, which caused the death of the patient.
During the sentencing, the court did not discuss the fact that the doctors were conscientious objectors. However, whether their conscientious objection (CO) led to Valentina’s death was discussed quite a lot in a report in La Sicilia on 4 November 2019, following the second day of the hearing of the case in court on 29 October 2019. Given the serious charges on which they were finally found guilty, perhaps the question is moot. But why the sentences were suspended is not explained.
SOURCE: La Sicilia, 28 October 2022. Translated into English by Vita di Donna, Italy, E-mail: 14 November 2022.