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Tot left brain damaged after doctors fight in delivery room

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 today to deliver a personal apology to the mother.

Laura Salpietro (30) also had to have her uterus removed and her son, Antonio, suffered heart problems and possible brain damage following his birth last Thursday in Messina's public hospital.

Health officials and Ms Salpietro's husband, Matteo Molonia, said the two doctors disagreed about whether to perform a Caesarean section and then began punching each other while Ms Salpietro was in labour.

Mr Molonia said that the brawl delayed the C-section by over an hour, leading to complications for both mother and son.

The fistfight occurred at a state hospital between a doctor who works there and a private physician who Ms Salpietro paid as her gynaecologist. Prosecutors have placed five doctors under investigation, and Health Minister Ferruccio Fazio visited Ms Salpietro in the hospital to apologise.

“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,” Mr Fazio said. The incident was the latest evidence of medical mistakes frequently reported in southern Italian hospitals and it underscored Italians' increasing use of private doctors.

Italy has universal healthcare, but some Italians use private doctors to avoid long waits for procedures.

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