Luana Ricca

BMJ 2016; 352 doi: (Published 30 March 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;352:i1767
  1. Caroline White
  1. London
  1. cwhite{at}

Liver surgeon and researcher whose suicide prompted a campaign to overhaul career progression in medicine in Italy

The death of the internationally renowned liver surgeon and researcher Luana Ricca at the age of 38 sparked outrage in Italy and provided the catalyst for a campaign that now has the ear of government.

Ricca took her own life but those closest to her say that she was a victim of a professional culture—rooted in patronage and favour rather than merit and quality—that ground her down. A blog she posted for Italy’s Radio24 two years ago showed her frustration at trying to secure a public sector hospital post that was commensurate with her experience and skills. “In Italy, I currently have no chance whatsoever of doing the work I know how to do, despite having carried out more than 1500 surgical procedures—two thirds of them as lead surgeon—and having published in international surgical journals, and speaking three foreign languages,” she wrote.

Her younger brother, Francesco, describes Ricca as a spirited, generous, and fiercely energetic …

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