Death toll up in Sapoca murder cases. The manager of the mental hospital resigns, doctor on call sanctioned. Who is the murderer?

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Health minister Sorina Pintea has announced on Monday morning that the death toll in the tragedy from the Mental Hospital in Săpoca, Buzau, has climbed to five, after a 88-year-old patient had died at Floreasca Hospital last night.

“Unfortunately we have to announced 5 deaths, as one of the patients hospitalised at Floreasca, a 88-year-old woman, died last night,” Pintea said.

The Health Minister is at Săpoca Mental Hospital to coordinate the internal investigation after five people had died and other five had been injured by another patient who had attacked them with a I.V. stand.

The attacker is currently admitted at Floreasca as well, with doctors trying to determine if the 38-year-old man was mentally able to commit the murders.

At the same time, the minister announced the manager of the mental hospital has resigned. Viorica Mihalascu will be replaced by the unit’s CFO.

Sorina Pintea said several criminal complaints for dereliction of duty will be filed: “We suspect dereliction of duty in this case, we must file complaints, the prosecutors will investigate”.

Two reports on assaults have been filed here in the past two years, there have been incidents in the wards. The law says that the case must be reported after every incident of this kind, we were told actions had been taken, we asked for proof, there is no evidence. I consider no reports have been made,” Pinted stated.

Moreover, the minister accused the members of the hospital’s managing board are just “acting”, for they have not convened according to the legal requirements.

Pintea further said it was “an absolutely unfortunate event” that has nothing to do with politics, but only with the fact that somebody “has not observed work duties”.

We are talking about a poor medical organization“, she argued, announcing checks in all mental hospitals in Romania.

The minister also revealed there have been several mistakes detected at a first glance. First the patient who committed the murders had been initially hospitalised in a room with surveillance, but he had been relocated on Friday when “another patient was admitted”. Pintea stressed that the aggressor’s relocation in another ward had not been reported in the medical records.

Secondly, the nurse stated she had given the aggressor the sedation prescribed by the doctors, but this is not in the medical record either.

According to the minister, the nurse should not have left the I.V. stand in the ward, at the patient’s hand. Another mistake is that the murderer was assigned a bed with another patient.

Thirdly, the minister argues that two guards were ensuring the surveillance in the Săpoca hospital on Saturday. The law allows that these guards are unskilled workers, so they might not have a special training in monitoring patients with mental problems.

Sorina Pintea also disclosed that the management of the Mental Hospital in Săpoca had never asked permission to hire a security company, but, on the other hand, the Health ministry has increased the positions in the medical unit by 45 more jobs in the past three years.

The minister said there is no staff shortage at Săpoca, as a health trade union claimed on Sunday, arguing that 7 nurses and 3 orderlies were managing the pavilion where the tragedy occurred. Therefore, the ministers stated that requirements in the job description had not been met.

Minister Pintea has also questioned the hospital’s initial stance that the while incident had occurred in no time, and the staff could not intervene at such a short notice. “There are inaccuracies in the medical staff’s statements. It could not happen such a thing in just one minute and nobody hears. The logic tells me it could not happen such a thing, the more the nurse’s office was 15 metres away from the ward“, Pintea argued.

Doctor in call, sanctioned

The doctor on call that night when the tragedy occurred has been sanctioned with RON 1,000 for admitting another patient in the same bed with the aggressor.

The disciplinary committee within the Buzau Healthcare Service was notified to probe into the case.

Sources within the hospital’s medical staff have though said that the aggressor had given his consent that another patient was brought into his bed, and that he was sane and cooperative after he was hospitalised.

Who is the killer?

The 38-year-old man who killed the patients and injured others was unemployed, and used to be a day worker from time to time. He was not married and lived with his mother. People in his village recounted he was not known as a violent man, but said he used to quarrel with his mom when he got drunk.

On the other hand, his mother revealed he is suffering of epilepsy and she cannot explain his action. The mother admitted he used to be “very agitated and angry” when he had seizures, but he was under treatment.

The woman also said his brothers and friends even visited him on the day of the tragedy and, according to their testimonies, the man was well. “They laughed, ate bagels, I don’t know what happened over night”, the mother stated, adding his son was admitted to Săpoca mental hospital before.

One of his friends recounted: “When I went to see him in hospital he was acting like a normal person. He told me he wanted to talk to the doctors to discharge him from the hospital”.

As for his epilepsy, Health minister Pintea said the hospital had not mention about this affection and that the aggressor was not in the hospital’s neurological records. Pintea said the Doctors’ College will establish if the man was suffering of epilepsy and if he received a wrong treatment while admitted at Săpoca.

“Something definitely happened because, from the cooperating patient he ended up doing that“, the minister added.

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