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4 Feb, 2018 15:55

‘Stop persecuting doctors!’ Public outcry over conviction of Moscow hematologist

The hotly-discussed case of a Moscow doctor convicted of medical malpractice after the death of a patient has provoked a public outcry, with medical society and legal experts insisting that the case has serious flaws.

Elena Misyurina was found guilty of negligence after her patient’s death and received a two-year prison sentence in late January. The court said that the doctor improperly performed a biopsy on the male patient back in 2013, causing fatal blood vessel damage. The patient, whom Misyurina was treating at that time, had been diagnosed with three serious and life-threatening diseases — myelofibrosis (bone marrow cancer), prostate cancer and diabetes insipidus.  

Misyurina performed a routine diagnostic procedure known as trepanobiopsy — she took bone marrow and bone tissue samples from the patient. The man was feeling normal and even went to work. However, later that day he experienced severe stomach pains and was transferred to Moscow’s Medsi private hospital (not the one where Misyurina worked). Several days later he died.

According to the Medsi medical examiner, it was the biopsy and not the treatment at the hospital or the patient’s cancers which caused the man’s death. Misyurina repeatedly demanded the body be exhumed and re-examined but the court dismissed her requests.

While in detention the medic gave an interview to Russia’s Dozhd TV in which she denies any wrongdoing and insists that the man would have bled to death on the spot had she indeed damaged his blood vessels. “A wounded man isn’t able to walk all day nor drive a car,” she said in an emotional speech.  


Medical professionals across Russia have been left outraged by the conviction of the renowned hematologist, with many claiming the routine procedure couldn’t have caused the patient’s death.


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A petition on change.org initiated by the Medical Defence League has already gathered over 80,000 signatures in a week. “Free the doctor who does her duty! Stop persecuting doctors!” the petition says.  

“Every sane medic understood that a person who fully deserved to be acquitted was being put behind bars,” Olga Demicheva from the Medical Defence League told RT. “That means all of us, doctors, may end up in prison. If we get punished just for following correct procedures, then we will be afraid of doing our jobs as doctors.”

Misyurina’s case has already been dubbed the ‘Doctor’s case’ on social media, in reference to the infamous ‘Doctor’s case’ in the 1950s USSR when a group of prominent, mostly Jewish medics were accused of trying to assassinate Soviet leaders and top officials. Doctors, Misyurina’s patients and supporters launched the #яеленамисюрина hashtag (I am Elena Misyurina) on social networks.

“[The] future is being taken away from the person who saved my life and lives of many others. That’s unfair,” Olesya Desnyanskaya, one of Misyurina’s cancer patients, wrote on Facebook.  

In the meantime, the Moscow prosecutor’s office filed an appeal citing mistakes made during the investigation. The appeal is founded on evidence that the forensic reports contradict each other, the witnesses’ records were not properly probed and the proof doesn’t definitively point at Misyurina.  

RT attempted to contact the Medsi clinic where the patient died, but failed to get any comment. On its website the medical group insists that it “firmly abides by all standards and regulations for providing medical treatment.” 

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