Peru woman loses limbs in public healthcare mishap
Posted by Jack Dylan Cole on Aug 17, 2016 2 comments

Peru woman loses limbs in public healthcare mishap

Peru woman loses limbs in public healthcare mishap Photo credit: Cuarto Poder

A woman who went into a Lima hospital to have kidney stones removed has had her hands and feet amputated after alleged malpractice.

Shirley Melendez, a 25-year-old counselor at Peru’s student financial aid agency, first went to the Guillermo Almenara public hospital in La Victoria in January to be treated for kidney stones.

She was discharged after three operations between January and March, only to return 10 days later when she could not urinate. She was taken into emergency care and given a catheter before fainting. Doctors induced her into a coma and gave her a tracheotomy, but the following day she suffered a cardiac arrest.

“I went in because I was worried I could not urinate. I did not think there would be a risk of death,” Melendez told Cuarto Poder.

Doctors thought Melendez was improving but noticed severe necrosis, or lifelessness in skin tissue, in her hands and feet. They decided to amputate. Melendez learned she lost her hands and feet when she woke up from the coma.

Melendez claims she has a recording which suggests that her doctor used an infected catheter. He has denied the claim. The case has horrified the country and drawn scrutiny on Peru’s public healthcare system, EsSalud.

“Shirley demonstrates an issue that needs correcting with EsSalud. We must become aware of the impact this has on a young and dynamic woman like her,” labor minister Alfonso Grados told La Republica.

On Tuesday President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski weighed in on the issue in a video posted to his Facebook account.

“It is absolutely scandalous that we have this kind of medical treatments. There have been cases of people who had the wrong leg amputated,” Kuczynski said. “We are working very hard so that this type of thing never happens again in our country.”

“Shirley, I promise that the state will give you everything today.”

EsSalud director Virginia Baffigo has said that the case is under investigation.

Melendez’s is at least the second case in which a patient entered the EsSalud system with one condition and left with their hands and feet amputated. In 2014 Kelly Sayhua underwent an appendicitis at the Sabogal hospital in Callao which resulted in an infection that led to her losing her hands and feet.


Mujer entró al quirófano por cálculos renales y terminó sin manos ni pies (Cuarto Poder)

Fue a hospital por calculos y le amputaron brazoz y piernas (El Comercio)

Una joven se sometio a operacion por calculos renales y le amputaron manos y piernas (La Republica)

Caso Kelly Sayhua: familia asegura negligencia médica, pero EsSalud lo niega (La Republica)

Pedro Pablo Kuczynski (Facebook)

  • Philip Brown

    Who was responsible for checking the patient’s chart? This young woman will suffer the rest of her life for someone’s NEGLIGENCE! In the US, at least she would get a monetary award to help with her pain & suffering; in Peru not so sure what will happen. I am thinking of contacting her to see if I can offer financial support. Best wishes.

    • Lorenzo

      Phillip, it is not so simple.The young lady waited for her kidney stones to obstruct her ureters before seeking help. Her staghorn stones were removed, but she became septic (bacteria from the kidneys entering the bloodstream). Life saving blood pressure medicines were used to keep her alive, but they caused the necrosis of her fingers and toes. It is a scenario that has played out many times in the US. There is no way to tell of negligence from the news reports, but the media is taking a US like sensationalism that will make medical care even worse in Peru. Here is a commentary (in spanish, unfortunately) that puts it in to perspective.