A baby was born with suspected brain damage and his mother needed emergency surgery after two doctors began fighting during the delivery in Italy.
The country's health minister went to Sicily on Monday to deliver a personal apology to the mother.
Laura Salpietro, 30, had to have her uterus removed and her son Antonio suffered heart problems and possible brain damage following his birth on Thursday in Messina's public hospital.
Her husband Matteo Molonia said the doctors disagreed about whether to perform a caesarean section and came to blows while she was in labour. He said the fight delayed the section by over an hour, leading to complications for mother and son.
One of the doctors was Mrs Salpietro's private gynaecologist who cared for her during her pregnancy while the other was the doctor on duty at the hospital.
Prosecutors have placed five doctors under investigation, and Health Minister Ferruccio Fazio said after speaking to Mrs Salpietro on Monday: "I tried to give her words of hope, and above all I tried to tell her that the government was with her and her family at this time."
The incident was the latest evidence of medical mishaps frequently reported in southern Italian hospitals.
It also cast a fresh spotlight on their unusually high caesarian rates: Some 38% of all births in Italy are done by section, more than twice the 15% recommended by the World Health Organisation.
In Sicily, however, the average is 52% while Campania - the southern mainland region that includes Naples - it reaches 60%.