June 16, 2021

Castilla y León will investigate the death of a woman from Burgos with cancer who did not get an in-person medical appointment in four months: “It is immoral”

“Today she would have been married for 18 years, but we buried her on her husband’s 50th birthday.” With her voice cracking despite her determination, Lydia Sainz-Maza recounts the ordeal her sister Sonia suffered during her last months of life. Sonia Sainz-Maza was 48 years old when they did not detect a colon cancer with metastasis. She was “familiar, happy and very affectionate”, so much so that some of the elderly who she cared for in a nursing home cried when they learned of her death on August 13, her sister recalls by phone.

In mid-April, in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, his leg began to hurt. She thought it was a stretch, but she decided to make an appointment with her doctor to see her because after several days it would not pass. Although she was slim, she had lost ten pounds in just a few weeks and began to worry. For three months, she kept calling to ask for a consultation, but her doctor did not see it necessary to attend her in person and neither did he reflect the rest of her symptoms. “My sister was not able to take a pill without the stomach pain killing her and her skin was yellowish, but none of that appears in the history,” says her sister who has had access to the medical history.

For months, now far from the peak of the pandemic, the professionals did not see it necessary to do an analysis beyond an appointment with the traumatologist. On June 18, she appeared at the Burgos University hospital with the flyer, but they did not attend to her either due to a formality. They told her that they could not treat her at the center because according to the report of the doctor who had not seen her it was lumbociatalgia. “They just gave her an appointment with a rehabilitator next year,” recalls her sister. Helplessly from having traveled the more than 100 kilometers between Espinosa de los Monteros and the Hospital, she decided to go to the emergency room. Diagnosis: tendonitis. Treatment: an injection and rest at home.

The colon cancer had progressed silently and as the weeks passed his appearance became increasingly haggard. “When I saw her naked she wanted to give me something,” says her sister. Two days after being dispatched to the ER, and thinking that perhaps in another Community she would be better served, she went to the Cruces University Hospital in Barakaldo (Euskadi). It didn’t help either. “They told her that she could not have lost so much weight, that it would be anything else and they reproached her because she could be infected with COVID-19. A month later she returned to the same hospital, they admitted her to the ward and gave her the fatal diagnosis: cancer of colon with metastases She died on August 13 feeling that she had made a pilgrimage in the desert “and abandoned like an animal.”

There, Sonia’s fight ended and her sister’s began. Lydia received a call this morning from the Minister of Health of Castilla y León, Verónica Casado. “She has apologized to me, she wanted me to tell her the story and she told me that they will do everything possible to clarify what happened.” At a press conference, Casado announced the opening of reserved information. Lydia appreciates the gesture, but does not forget what her sister has suffered. “I’m on the verge of an anxiety attack, but I’m going to collect everything to file an administrative complaint,” he says. The family is also in contact with a lawyer and they are considering criminal proceedings. She not only seeks justice, but also the reversal of the telephone service model that caused the premature death of her sister: “Telephone support is immoral, it goes against the Hippocratic oath. It is not medicine and it must be eliminated from the health agenda.

Lydia does not want to imagine what could have happened if she had received the dignified health care “she deserved”. “It is a very serious disease. Who knows if she could have lived three months or six. She has been denied the possibility of fighting, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. She has been denied dignified care to which she has been contributing since she started working with 18 years “, she adds. “Bad luck is having a silent cancer, what she suffered is not bad luck: it is lack of ethics and a terrible health management”.


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