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Court calls doctors to testify

091203_04a
Ly Kok Meng, whose 23-year-old wife died last month at the Cambodian-Russian Friendship Hospital.

MEDICAL staffers at a prominent Phnom Penh hospital could face questions about accusations of carelessness following the death of a woman during childbirth last month, court officials confirmed Wednesday.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court has “invited” several doctors and a midwife from the Cambodian-Russian Friendship Hospital to testify next week, Court Deputy Prosecutor Sok Roeun said.

“I summoned several involved doctors last week following a complaint from the victim’s family,” said Sok Roeun, who would not elaborate on the case nor specify how many medical staffers he planned to interview.

“The first step will be to hear their testimony about the facts,” he said.

Ban Rany, 23, died early last month after her husband rushed her to the hospital.

Nine months pregnant, Ban Rany was to have given birth imminently. Instead, said her husband Ly Kok Meng, she burst into convulsions after being injected with a serum meant to boost her energy. She died minutes later, along with her unborn child.

The woman’s family immediately accused the medical staff of negligence; the hospital insisted Ban Rany died following an unpreventable allergic reaction to the serum.

A month after losing his wife, Ly Kok Meng said his views have not changed.

“I am still unhappy with those doctors,” he said. “My wife will still not be alive if I forgive them, but I just want to find justice for her.”

Ly Kok Meng said he has no plans to seek monetary compensation for his wife’s death through a civil complaint.

“What I want most is the court to find justice for her,” he said. “I always dream about what happened in that hospital room the day she died.”

However, the criminal justice system may not have the tools to resolve such cases, one observer said.

The criminal code lacks basic malpractice laws, making allegations of negligence difficult to fit within the current system, said Sok Sam Oeun, executive director of the Cambodian Defenders Project.

“It is really difficult to charge [someone accused of malpractice] according to our law,” Sok Sam Oeun said.

“In such cases, the doctor has no intention to kill. The intention is to help,” said Sok Sam Oeun, who suggested that complainants with similar allegations settle their disputes through a civil system of monetary compensation.

The director of the hospital, Dr Say Sengly, declined to comment Wednesday, saying he was busy in a meeting.

Speaking last month after the original allegations were aired, however, Say Sengly denied any wrongdoing in the case.

“We were not careless. We tried to help his wife,” he said.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY IRWIN LOY

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