Hospital generic 224.88.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Dr. Svetlana Ruso was sentenced on Thursday to eight years in jail on the charge of manslaughter in the death of a three-and-a-half-year-old girl four years ago.
The anaesthesiologist had been convicted by the Tel Aviv District Court of going to sleep during the operation and of turning down the volume of the monitoring devices so that they would not disturb her.
The girl, Neta-Li Boroski, died on June 5, 2005, a few days after suffering cardiac arrest on the operating table at Assuta Hospital in north Tel Aviv's Ramat Hahayal neighborhood. Her parents, Dvora and Marcello, had arranged the operation to correct a mild cross-eyed condition.
Judge Zvi Gorfinkel, who presided over the trial, wrote that Ruso "sat down on a chair, covered her shoulders with a sheet, put her legs up on a stool and, with a book resting on her chest, fell asleep.
"She not only prepared herself for sleep, so that she would be completely cut off from the operation, but also did not watch the monitor, which was facing the surgeon instead of her, and turned down the anaesthesia machine so that the alarm warning of a problem would not be heard. She also lowered the beep sound on the monitor so that she would not be able to hear any changes in the rate of the beeps, which also indicates danger," Gorfinkel wrote.
Ruso is only the second doctor in the state's history to be convicted of manslaughter. The first was Dr. Vladimir Yakirevich, who was convicted of two counts of manslaughter and other crimes and was sentenced in 2004 to seven years in jail, later reduced to six. The cardiothoracic surgeon was found guilty of killing two women due to his "recklessness and negligence" when he abandoned patients in the operating theater at Ichilov Hospital to go operate on private patients at Assuta Hospital.
Gorfinkel said he had considered sentencing Ruso to 10 years in prison but as a result of the Yakirevich precedent, he did not want to make it appear that the sentence was motivated by revenge.
The judge also sentenced the operating surgeon, Dr. Haim Stolovich, to four months in jail, commuted to four months of public service, for failing to take overall responsibility for the welfare of the child during the operation. The monitor faced him during the operation, although he was not directly responsible for following it.
"Whoever has to undergo an operation should check out every single aspect of the operating room," Marcello Boroski said after the sentencing. "I asked the doctor a thousand times, every time I met him, if something could happen to Neta, because it was very difficult for us to bring her into the world and if anything happened to her, and it did happen to her. Even today I can't understand how I relied on the doctor's word.
"It left me with a trauma. If, heaven forbid, anything should happen to either of Neta's sisters and they would require an operation, I don't know what I would do with myself."