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Romanian maternity nurse jailed after fire kills 5 newborns

By Cosmin Stan, For CNN
  • Nurse ordered jailed pending trial on manslaughter charges
  • Florentina Cirstea's lawyer said she would appeal the decision
  • Cirstea allegedly left the newborns unattended for 12 minutes
  • She blames the nation's understaffed health system

Bucharest, Romania (CNN) -- The nurse in charge of a Romanian maternity hospital's intensive care unit that burned last week, killing five newborns and injuring six others, was ordered jailed Tuesday for 29 days, while she awaits trial on charges of manslaughter and unintentionally causing injuries, the prosecutor said.

Simona Luciana Parvu, nurse Florentina Cirstea's lawyer, said she would appeal the judge's decision.

The judge accepted the prosecutors' request to arrest Cirstea because she failed to fulfill her duties to care for the 11 newborns who were in the ICU on August 16 at the time of the fire, the prosecutor said.

At a time when she was supposed to have been on duty in the ICU, Cirstea left the newborns unattended for 12 minutes, going to another hospital room and to the bathroom, the prosecutor said in the arrest warrant.

The defense lawyer acknowledged that her client left the ICU to go to the bathroom, but said she was then was called by a colleague to another room because the colleague had been called to help deliver another baby in the operating room.

Parvu added that her client -- who had worked for 14 years as an ICU nurse -- deeply regrets what happened but blames the Romanian health care system. She said Cirstea's job description stipulates that at least two other nurses were to be with her in the ICU at all times, but that she was alone.

If convicted of manslaughter, Cirstea could be sentenced to up to seven years in prison.