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5 December 2015

A hospital in Romania’s capital treating victims of a deadly nightclub fire in late October that killed 60 people has been brought into disrepute by a doctor claiming many victims have died due to infections contracted there.

The surgeon, who works at Bucharest’s Burn Hospital, claimed that some of the victims were infected with hospital-originating bacterias up to five days after being admitted, and could have been saved had they been treated abroad shortly after the fire.

“Young people have died in a biological bomb, because of hospital-acquired infections,” the doctor said, speaking anonymously to Romanian journalist Catalin Tolontan.

The doctor has 17 years experience working in the burns surgery.

“In our unit, the burns hospital, most of those who died had been infected with various germs, the most aggressive of which was the Pseudomonas bacteria. I know for certain that this was the situation in our hospital, and I know from my colleagues at other hospitals that the situation there was the same,” the surgeon said.

Burns victims are highly susceptible to bacterial infections, as they lose the skin barrier that naturally prevents contraction. At the Bucharest hospital, Colectiv victims have been sharing rooms.

“In a proper hospital every patient should have his own room, where they’re being cleaned, operated, and treated; the room in which they either survive or die.”

The fire broke out when pyrotechnics were set off during a concert at Colectiv nightclub in central Bucharest. 27 were killed in the venue, and a further 33 people have since died.

At a press conference the hospital’s Head of Burns and Plastic Surgery, Adrian Stanculea, said: “In our hospital we had 27 patients out of which three certainly died because of hospital contracted infections”

A journalist asked Stanculea whether the state was informed about the situation, to which he replied, “I’ve explained to [the authorities] the conditions [before now], what a centre for burns patients should look like, and how the infrastructure should be organised in Romania, but I cannot build the hospitals myself.”

Romania’s healthcare system is rife with corruption, where it is common for doctors – who survive on low salaries – to accept bribes for service.

The anonymous doctor also told Tolontan that many medics avoid officially declaring the cause of death by infection as it creates more paperwork.

In the days after the tragedy there were large protests by civic society, which prompted the prime minister Victor Ponta to resign. Many protesters were chanting “Coruptia ucide” (corruption kills).

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