Trials begin in hospital gas deaths

Some 30 people were sent to trial Monday on manslaughter charges in the 2007 hospital deaths of eight heart patients in southern Italy mistakenly given laughing gas instead of oxygen.

Doctors, anaesthetists, suppliers, technicians and local health officials will stand trial on July 2 for a pipe-fitting blunder that led to the deaths in a coronary intensive care at Castellaneta near Taranto in Puglia between April 20 and May 4, 2007.

The defendants are variously charged with manslaughter, negligence, supplying mistaken materials and administrative violations…

Among the key defendants are staff and executives of the Puglia-based company Ossitalia, which specialises in the installment of medical gas equipment.

Doctors say the patients’ deaths initially failed to arouse suspicion because they were all elderly and in frail condition.

Just what I need to inspire confidence in medical care for old geeks like me.

In my whole life, I’ve only spent 3 days in hospital – most of that being for observation after a serious car crash. The few odd bits of surgery I’ve experienced have been on an out-patient basis.

Now, I get to worry about getting the wrong gas.

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