Three separate investigations were under way Monday into the deaths of three patients at the Dafni Psychiatric Hospital on the outskirts of Athens on Friday, chief among them being an emergency probe ordered by an Athens prosecutor.
Ilias Zagoraios on Monday ordered an investigation into whether the facility met fire safety standards, how the patients who died were being cared for and whether they were being monitored regularly.
Reports about the incident have been conflicting, with some sources suggesting that the victims may have been shackled to their beds for safety reasons. According to the most recent information, it appears that the fire began in a special room reserved for a 35-year-old patient with a history of violence against other patients, staff members and himself in Building 7 of the psychiatric facility.
The smoke from the blaze spread to the adjoining quarter, also reserved for extremely disturbed patients, causing the death of three people and the injury of another two.
Staff at the facility have repeatedly claimed that the 35-year-old should not have been kept at the Dafni hospital, which has neither adequate security nor the specially trained staff required to monitor violent patients.
“Despite a succession of letters to the authorities asking for this patient to be moved to a prison facility under psychiatric treatment, we were never heard,” a committee of doctors at Dafni Psychiatric Hospital said in a statement on Monday. The claim was denied by the prosecutor’s office, which said that it had received no such request.
In a separate announcement, the Hellenic Psychiatric Association stressed the need for special areas combining close confinement and medical support for patients who have been found to be a risk.