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The timing of the remembrance of Ugo Cerletti by Dr. Stefano Pallanti, M.D., Ph.D. (1), is ironic in view of the Feb. 15, 1999, circolare (government white paper) signed by Rosy Bindi, Italian Minister of Health, that replaces the government’s previously favorable official view of ECT as an "indispensable" treatment, with stringent new restrictions on its use. The circolare specifies that private clinics will no longer be able to offer ECT, which may now be administered only as an emergency procedure in government hospitals after other treatments have failed and if the patient is in a "life-threatening" situation.
Because of politically based conflicts, the use of ECT in Italy was already among the lowest in the European community; the new regulations now threaten the very existence of this truly indispensable treatment in the land of its birth.
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