Case of the faceless baby reported in Spain as putting “the Portuguese medical profession in check”

A case of true horror that could only happen in Portugal. This obstetrician, who had already accumulated many complaints for failing to detect malformations on ultrasound scans, also “missed” the case of a girl who had “inverted legs, no chin, and also serious brain injuries”. I’m not an obstetrician, but I don’t think even I would miss that!

Because no responsible Portuguese authority stopped this doctor, despite the immense number of complaints over the years, it goes without saying that the lives of these parents were forever scarred, because this butcher doctor prevented them from deciding, in view of these very tragic malformations about their fetus, probably not to carry the pregnancy to term.

But of course this child, even with these very serious life-limiting complications, will be very much loved by its parents, just as any other child can be.

The following article is a translation. You can find the link to the original website at the end of it.

“A baby without a face calls the Portuguese medical profession into question,” writes El País. El Mundo is no more lenient: “The problem is that in Portugal, there are no defined rules regarding who can perform obstetric ultrasounds.”

The case is not surprising, or it did not have all the ingredients to be featured in newspapers across borders.

Take a look: a baby born without a face, a doctor who had already accumulated several complaints for, precisely, not detecting malformations on ultrasounds, lack of rules defined by the class, archived cases with no consequences for the said obstetrician.

Given this scenario, it is clear to El País that not only this doctor faces a complicated future, but the entire medical profession is under suspicion. The Spanish newspaper reports that of the twelve complaints filed against doctor Artur Carvalho since 2007, eight are still open and the other four have been archived. Furthermore, the same order that “at no time alerted public or private hospitals, did not provide explanations for the delay in analyzing all these complaints”.

Remember that Marlene, the mother of the boy born without a face at the São Bernardo Hospital in Setúbal, found out about her son’s deformities after he was born. The three obstetric ultrasounds she had during her pregnancy were all done at Eco Sado, a private clinic where this doctor practiced.

El País also states that President Miguel Guimarães guaranteed that he would start an investigation “immediately” in response to the “social alarm” created, recognizing that he has accumulated five complaints since 2013 that remain open.

The only one that was investigated was archived and concerned the 2011 case in which the baby was born with its legs upside down. But the medical board ruled that the obstetrician was not negligent and did not sanction him.

Artur Carvalho, the doctor in question, was the first to announce that he would suspend performing ultrasounds until the OM analyzed the pending cases – the disciplinary council would then announce the doctor’s suspension.

Remember that the obstetrician under fire performed the ultrasounds in a private clinic of which he is a partner and director – “a more common procedure than one might think in Portuguese health care”, the newspaper also notes, citing a lawyer specializing in medical issues: “There is not much case law on medical negligence in Portugal”, says Daniel Torres Gonçalves.

Nevertheless, in the last decade Portuguese courts have twice condemned hospitals for failing to detect deformities in babies during pregnancy. The judgments awarded the parents between 80,000 and 200,000 euros in compensation, in addition to the payment of all medical expenses until the patient reaches the age of majority.

Lack of rules…

The story of the faceless baby is also described by El Mundo, the second largest newspaper in the neighboring country – and it is described, right in the first lines,

that at birth, doctors didn’t even give little Rodrigo hours to live, he had no eyes, no nose, not even a part of his skull.

Against all odds, the little boy fights back, with his mother, Marlene Simão, always at his side, and attention immediately turns to the conditions that allowed him to be born with such deformities and the obvious negligence of the doctor who supervised this pregnancy. It should be remembered that, in addition to the various routine examinations carried out in this private clinic, in which Artur Carvalho assured them that everything was absolutely normal, little Rodrigo’s parents even tried the services of another private clinic that offered 5D ultrasound. This is a system that allows us to see the fetus as if it were next to us.

The technician who performed the examination told the couple that there seemed to be a serious malformation, but Artur Carvalho insisted in a subsequent consultation that there was no problem with the pregnancy.

El Mundo also adds that the only complaint against this doctor that has been analyzed is the one from 2011,

in which the girls had inverted legs, no chin, and severe brain injuries. The Public Ministry even opened a case, but it was closed after concluding that “the anomalies in question are difficult to detect by routine tests.

The General Directorate of Health, the newspaper also points out, stipulates that pregnant women must undergo three ultrasound scans during pregnancy: one between the 11th and 13th weeks of pregnancy, in which the cranio-caudal area and the neck are measured; another between the 20th and 22nd weeks, in which a morphological study is carried out to look for possible anomalies; and a final one between the 32nd and 34th weeks, in order to assess the development and well-being of the fetus.

The problem, the newspaper points out, is that “in Portugal, there are no rules that define who can perform obstetric ultrasounds. In other words, any doctor can perform and interpret them without any training in the procedure.

A concern expressed by the Portuguese Society of Obstetricians.

A country where criminals and the powerful are systematically protected to the detriment of victims and its citizens is the definition of a dictatorship, which is why Portugal should leave the EU.


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