A photograph of an elderly woman left naked and uncovered on her bed in a ward at Limassol General Hospital has caused an uproar on social media and among patients’ rights activists.
Activists argue it is just one example of how elderly patients are treated in state hospitals.
The furore over the photo going viral on social media has reignited a heated discussion over how older patients with cognitive problems are cared for.
The photo was posted on Facebook by Dr Marios Kyriazis, a geriatrist.
He posted: “We should all be ashamed…I don’t care if someone is punished, but I don’t accept that the patient is punished.”
In comments to Active Radio, Dr Kyriazis said he was informed by the state health organisation OKYPY that the patient, due to a serious problem she is facing, took off the clothes herself.
“But even so, this is not an excuse for the woman to stay in this state…old people may face problems of dementia, Alzheimer’s or whatever.
“That’s why they should be treated with even more care and attention so that their dignity is also protected,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Federation of Patients’ Associations (OSAK) said it was just the tip of the iceberg regarding how elderly patients are treated.
The association’s spokesperson Dimitris Lambrianides said the federation had filed a number of complaints regarding patient mistreatment at hospitals, including being tied to their beds.
OSAK had passed on to authorities many complaints from families reporting that they found their loved ones bound to their beds.
Commenting on the incident, Lambrianides said that authorities need to review their protocols on restrictions when it comes to such cases.
“In these cases, restrictions should not apply, and a family member or a carer should be allowed to remain in the room to protect these patients”.
He added that such incidents did not need intervention from the Health Minister.
“These are matters that the administration should handle.
“There are supervisors and ward managers who have the responsibility to safeguard the dignity of their patients,” said Lambrianides.
He argued that ward staff could easily protect patients’ dignity, even if they have cognitive issues.
“They could do simple things, such as keeping the curtains closed if patients take their clothes off or place them in separate rooms”.
OKYPY, tasked with running state hospitals, said it would not tolerate such incidents, adding that an enquiry into the incident has been launched.
It argued that the photo of the elderly patient was taken illegally, without her consent, violating her rights.