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Court to examine death of pregnant woman in Pailin

Battambang deputy prosecutor says he has summoned six staffers at Pailin Referral Hospital for a hearing to be held next month.

BATTAMBANG'S deputy prosecutor issued summonses last week to six Pailin Referral Hospital staffers for a hearing in connection with the March 16 death of a pregnant woman whose husband says was denied emergency obstetric care because she was unable to pay a US$25 fee.

The staffers include four obstetricians who were at the hospital when the woman, Vorn Yoeub, 37, sought treatment there, said the deputy prosecutor, Koy Chanya, who added that he had also issued a summons to the victim's husband, Mith Rorn.

The hearing is scheduled for May 19 and 20.

In a March 18 interview with the Post, Mith Rorn said he drove his wife to the hospital so she could give birth there on the night of March 15.

When they arrived, he said, obstetricians at the hospital demanded $25 in advance to treat her, a fee the couple could not pay.

He said the obstetricians ignored several additional requests for treatment that night, saying it could wait until the morning. Vorn Yoeub died at 5am on March 16.

Hospital disputes charge

Luy Chantha, head of obstetrics at the hospital, has repeatedly disputed Mith Rorn's version of events and said the hospital never turned away patients who were too poor to pay treatment fees.

She said Wednesday that she had not yet received a summons letter but that she would gladly appear before the Battambang provincial court, which has jurisdiction in the case.

"I don't have any fear or reaction to the allegation, as I didn't commit any crime," she said. "I will be happy to clear up the public's doubts about this."

Ang Neang, deputy director of the hospital, said he had received a summons letter and that he would "not be afraid to answer the court's questions". He declined to comment further.

Past investigations

Luy Chantha said the four obstetricians had been told March 23 that they had been cleared of any wrongdoing in connection with the case after Pailin police officers conducted an investigation. She said Pailin Governor Y Chhien had told them he would "stop this problem" during a meeting in which they explained their version of events.

Y Chhien could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Chhuon Makara, the Pailin provincial coordinator for the rights group Adhoc, told the Post on Wednesday that the case had prompted him to investigate the quality of obstetric care available at Pailin Referral Hospital. He said the investigation had revealed a pattern of "carelessness" and unprofessional conduct, including the frequent use of "arrogant words" with patients.

He commended Koy Chanya's willingness to pursue the case, saying, "I welcome the court's decision to do its work to clear up the public's suspicions about wrongdoing".

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