Romanian doctors probed for re-using implants from dead patients

Romanian doctors probed for re-using implants from dead patients
/ bne IntelliNews
By Iulian Ernst in Bucharest February 19, 2023

Romanian cardiac surgeon Dan Tesloianu has been put in custody for 30 days after High Court prosecutors indicted him for having implanted 238 cardiac devices extracted from dead patients “or from unidentified sources” in return for bribes, between 2017 and August 2022. 

Re-using cardiac devices was common practice prior to 2007-2008 because of the lack of such devices in the country, but it has been specifically forbidden since June 2021. It is not in itself a criminal act unless associated with other crimes (such as bribe-taking).

According to prosecutors, all the evidence indicates Tesloianu convinced his patients not to use new, free devices from the state, but instead pay for devices of unclear origin — some of them allegedly from dead patients. In some cases, patients didn’t need such devices at all, prosecutors claim.

Tesloianu works for the public Sfantul Spiridon hospital in Iasi but is also a shareholder of a private clinic. 

The cardiac devices are covered by the national healthcare system in Romania under a dedicated scheme, but this did not include the hospital where Tesloianu was working. 

The management of the hospital spotted the issues in mid-2022 and reported them to the relevant bodies, Ziua de Iasi daily reported.

Prosecutors have now accused Tesloianu of abuse of office, and of taking bribes from patients. 

Four of the 238 patients who received implants are also being investigated for giving bribes.

Prosecutors said that a large number of the interventions were “unnecessary". They accuse Tesloianu of manipulating his patients’ health with medication so as to generate symptoms requiring implants. This prompted public outrage, but such statements will be difficult to prove in court — if the case ends in court.

It is not clear how many of the devices were taken from dead patients and what are the other “unidentified sources”. Medical staff familiar with the matter suggest that a significant number of the devices could have been provided as samples by producers or distribution companies.

Tesloianu has reportedly confessed, according to G4media, but he claimed that he was acting in the best interest of the patients since not enough devices were available in the public system.

This has been questioned by experts. The devices are not that scarce and they are generally covered by the public health insurance system in Romania, Doina Dimulescu, professor at Bucharest Medicine University Carol Davila, told Libertatea. Separately, it is not realistic to assume that hundreds of such devices were taken from patients who died at the hospital where Tesloianu was working.

Tesloianu does not appear to be an isolated case. Prosecutors claim that he "operationalised a network made up of medical personnel who provided him with implantable cardiac devices, including those extracted from deceased patients, without complying with the legal provisions and without the consent, prior to death, of the persons concerned or their relatives”.

Five other medical doctors of the public hospital in Iasi are being investigated for having allegedly participated.

Prosecutors also suspect that a medical doctor at the Military Hospital in Brasov carried out similar medical practices and the case was referred to the Military Prosecution Office.

Wages of medical doctors in Romania have increased significantly, and Tesloianu reportedly earned over €3,000 net per month plus €160,000 as dividends from a private clinic according to the public filings of his wife, for the latest available period (believed to be 2021).