Respiratory physicians among 51 doctor deaths from COVID-19 in Italy

Dr Marcello Ungolini

At least five respiratory physicians are among the 51 doctors in Italy who have died as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In what is being described in the Italian media as the “white coat massacre”, respiratory physicians have been among the prominent specialities listed, along with infectious disease physicians, anaesthetists and general practitioners.

The Italian medical association, known as the Federazione Nazionale degli Ordini dei Medici Chirurghi e degli Odontoiatri, has an honour roll of doctors who have died while treating patients with the coronavirus. And tragically, some of the deceased are older doctors who have returned to practice from retirement to help manage the pandemic

These include Dr Marcello Ugolini, 69, former head of the pulmonology department at Pesaro Hospital and councillor of the Pesaro-Urbino Medical Association, who died on 27 March. Even though he was officially retired, his colleagues say he continued working to help manage patients during the pandemic.

Other respiratory physicians who have died include the head of the Reggio Calabria  Polyclinic respiratory department Dr Antonino Scaramozzino, 65; Dr Raffaele Giura, 79, former head of the respiratory department, Como Hospital and  Dr Giuseppe Lanati, 73, of the respiratory department at Sant’Anna hospital, Como.

The COVID-19 pandemic is also reported to have claimed the lives of several respiratory physicians no longer in practice, including Dr Marcellino Massari, 89, formerly of the  Istituto Climatico di Robilante.

GPs make up a high proportion of the Italian doctor fatalities, with at least 18 primary care doctors on the list. Authorities have ascribed this to their high level of face-to-face contact with patients with COVID-19, particularly in the early stages of the pandemic when few protective measures were taken.

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