The Latest: Ethicist: Vatican hospital must allow fair audit


ROME (AP) — The Latest on the AP investigation into the Vatican children’s hospital (all times local):

A prominent medical ethicist says that the allegations of poor practice at the Vatican’s children’s hospital, as detailed in an Associated Press investigation, are “unconscionable” if true.

Arthur Caplan, head of medical ethics at NYU School of Medicine, said it appeared that the Bambino Gesu Pediatric Hospital was an institution with “a very high reputation but somehow may have become complacent.”

He said that the reports of problems including medications being used beyond the recommended time limit and children being brought out of anesthesia prematurely were extremely worrying.

Caplan told the AP that “these are inexcusable violations of children’s rights.”

He also said that “these allegations are so serious that we need to have an independent audit by child health care experts not connected in any way to either the Vatican or even Italy.”

The Vatican press office isn’t commenting on an Associated Press investigation that found that children were put at risk as the Vatican’s pediatric hospital chased profits under a past administration.

The AP reported Monday that the Vatican authorized a secret inquiry in early 2014 that gathered testimony from dozens of current and former staff members of the Bambino Gesu Pediatric Hospital.

The Vatican investigation confirmed that the mission of “the pope’s hospital” had been lost and was “today more aimed at profit than on caring for children.” Doctors and nurses at the Vatican hospital were angry that corners were being cut, safety protocols were being ignored and sick children were suffering.

The Vatican didn’t immediately comment Monday, though it previously provided AP with a second Vatican-commissioned report that found the employees’ allegations were “disproved.”

An Associated Press investigation finds the Vatican once authorized an inquiry of its showcase children’s hospital that revealed its mission was “more aimed at profit than on caring for children.”

For several weeks in early 2014, a secret Vatican-authorized task force of doctors and nurses from Bambino Gesu Pediatric Hospital found breaches of standard medical practice, heightened infection risk and management problems. Nine months later, a second Vatican investigation — led by a trio of American health professionals — inspected the hospital for three days and “disproved” the earlier findings, concluding the hospital was “best in class.”

Though the inquiries reached different conclusions, the AP found under Bambino Gesu’s past administration, children sometimes paid the price as the hospital expanded services and tried to make a money-losing Vatican enterprise profitable.

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