Italian doctors using cardboard as splints in ‘Third World’ clinics of southern Italy

Note to tourists visiting Italy this summer – don’t break a limb, at least not in Calabria.

Doctors in a cash-strapped hospital in the southern region have resorted to using sheets of cardboard to make splints for shattered arms and legs.

Photographs of patients bundled up in scrappy bits of cardboard, bound with surgical tape, have caused an outcry across the country.

At least four cases have been documented with photographic evidence and the suspicion is that there have been many more, in what one national newspaper called “a parody of the public health system” which was “not worthy of a civilised country”.

The creative use of cardboard occurred in the main hospital in Reggio Calabria, one of the region’s principal cities.

Patients who turn up at the accident and emergency unit any time after 8pm are allegedly bundled up in makeshift cardboard splints and told to come back in the morning, when the main team of doctors clock on for work and fractures can be set in plaster.

At least four cases of patients receiving splints made of cardboard have been documentedCredit:

The closures of other hospitals in Calabria and years of budget cuts have put an intolerable strain on the hospital, unions said.

It was designed to deal with a catchment area of 200,000 people but now has responsibility for a population of 750,000.

There are acute shortages of doctors and nurses as well as medical supplies and surgical equipment.

“This is the sort of thing you’d expect to see in a Third World country,” said Gianluigi Scaffidi, from a doctors’ union. “There are at least four confirmed cases, for which we have photographic proof.”

Carlo Palermo, another senior union official, said: “It’s like a field hospital in a war zone”.

Hospital managers claimed they had no idea that cardboard was being used for splints.

“We’re incredulous. We’re going to call a meeting in the next 24 hours to find out who was responsible,” said Lilly Albanese, one of the directors.

Frank Benedetto, the director general, said he too was taken aback by the use of cardboard. “If we need to buy new supplies, we’ll do it. This will not happen again,” he told La Repubblica newspaper.

Calabria, which forms the toe of the Italian boot, is one of the country’s poorest regions.

Calabria, which forms the toe of the Italian boot, is one of the country’s poorest regions

Public services have been eroded by decades of mismanagement, corruption, dysfunction and mafia infiltration.

A confidential briefing paper by the US embassy in Rome a decade ago, which was released through Wikileaks in 2011, declared that: “If it were not part of Italy, Calabria would be a failed state.”

American diplomats said the region was in the stranglehold of the feared ‘Ndrangheta crime syndicate and blighted by “ineffective” politicians, an acute lack of resources and an almost non-existent civil society.

“Much of the region’s industry collapsed over a decade ago, leaving environmental and economic ruin,” the 2008 report said.

The diplomats said that Calabria was “beset by seemingly intractable problems” and that in one province in particular, “organised crime seems to control almost every facet of society”.

Giulia Grillo, the health minister in Italy’s populist government, said the revelation that cardboard was being used for splints was “a matter of extreme seriousness”.

Click Here: gws giants guernsey 2019

“What happened, if confirmed, is the fruit of evident, unjustifiable organisational shortcomings.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *