The Slovenia Times

Guilty of Negligence


Paediatrician Zlatka Kanic, the attending physician, received a suspended sentence of 10 months in prison with a two-year probation and the co-defendant, paediatrician Robert Pogorevc, was acquitted.

"The fact is that [Kanic] did not do what she should have on the critical night," judge Vanja Verdel said as she handed down the sentence.

Kanic should have immediately transferred the boy to Ljubljana and consulted an endocrinologist. Omission of these measures led to brain damage that ended with the boy's death eight days after he was admitted, the judge said.

Kanic was originally charged with negligently causing death, but since experts and doctors could not confirm that her omission of measures directly led to the death, the charge was changed to negligent treatment, which carries a maximum prison sentence of one year.

Kanic and Pogorevc had been on trial for four months in connection to the 2008 death of Bor Nekrep, who died of excessive ammonia in his blood caused by a rare genetic condition that the doctors had failed to diagnose.

While admitting having misdiagnosed the boy, Kanic denied any wrongdoing.

The prosecution admitted that Pogorevc's role in the death was minor and asked for a suspended sentence of two months, which was upheld by the judge.

The case gained public attention after Nekrep's parents went public with the grievances against the doctors and complained of an internal cover-up at the hospital.

Both doctors continue to work for the UKC Maribor hospital, although Kanic may still see her licence stripped as part of an administrative inquiry by the Medical Chamber.

The publicity aspect of the case was also raised by the judge, who emphasised that the verdict was about this particular case only, not Kanic's overall capabilities as a doctor.

The defence as well as the prosecution said they were mulling appealing the verdict.

The prosecution had demanded that Kanic be given a prison term of a 18 months and opposes the judge having changed the charge.

"We insist that Bor did not get the chance to stay alive," district state prosecutor Darko Simonic said.

The defence, meanwhile, argues that the sentence is too harsh.

"This is a typical case of an have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too verdict...What happened here today is not the law and it will not benefit anyone," defence attorney Nina Zidar Klemencic said.

The boy's parents were satisfied with the ruling. "She is guilty, the judge said, and that's what matters. That's the only thing we expected from this court," Matjaz Nekrep said.

The Heath Ministry praised the speed with which the court reached the verdict, but would not comment on the decision itself, saying that the court was "independent and unbiased" in making decisions.

The Medical Chamber refused to comment on the ruling for the same reason.


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