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Romania investigates doctors suspected of reusing implants from dead patients

BUCHAREST (Reuters) - Romanian prosecutors said on Saturday they have opened a criminal investigation into five doctors suspected of reusing hundreds of medical implants extracted from dead patients.

One of the five doctors, who was working at a hospital in the eastern Romanian city of Iasi, has been taken into custody pending the investigation on charges of abuse of power and bribe taking, prosecutors said in a statement.

They said the unnamed doctor oversaw a network of four other physicians who provided him with cardiac implants extracted from deceased patients without prior approval from them or their families.

Prosecutors allege the doctor performed 238 surgeries over seven years from 2017, illegally using implants extracted from dead patients or of unknown provenance and putting his patients at risk of serious complications or death.

"A large part of the implants recommended by the doctor ... were not necessary and were prompted by fake diagnoses or by previously prescribed medication that would trigger specific symptoms," the statement said.

Romania's healthcare system, one of the least developed within the European Union, has been dogged by corruption, inefficiencies and politicised management.

The state has built one hospital in the last three decades, spends the least on healthcare in the EU and tens of thousands of doctors and nurses have emigrated.

(Reporting by Luiza Ilie; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)