THE DIRECTOR of a referral hospital in Stung Treng province has launched an investigation after medical workers there were accused of malpractice in the death of a pregnant woman.
The woman’s family says she died as hospital workers haggled over the cost of transferring her to a larger facility.
Oung Soveat, director of the Stung Treng referral hospital, said he knew little of the case but promised to look into the matter.
“I really regret what happened to the woman. I would also be upset if her death was related to my staff,” said Oung Soveat, who pledged a thorough investigation.
“It needs to take a long time to do the investigation because I need to ask my staff, check documents and other relevant information in order to see whether my staff committed malpractice or not.”
Hong Sren, 37, died last week as she was about to give birth. Her family said doctors told her that her baby had died in her womb, and that she would have to be sent to Kratie provincial hospital to remove the baby – a move that would cost 350,000 riels (US$83.50).
“I told them that we only had 200,000 riels ($48) and we will give them the rest later, but they refused,” said Chan Sokha, the woman’s sister-in-law.
By the time a neighbour offered to pay the rest of the bill, Hong Sren had died, she said.
“She died with her eyes open in the ambulance while the hospital workers prepared to transport her to Kratie provincial hospital,” she said.
The woman’s husband, Vann Samet, said his wife had come to check on her health every month with no problems.
“The doctors think that money is more important than my wife’s life,” he said.
An official with local rights group Adhoc urged an external investigation into the death.
“Those doctors betrayed their professional and moral standards,” said Chhay Rath, Adhoc’s coordinator in Stung Treng, who is preparing to file a complaint to the provincial court and police on behalf of the family.
Chhay Rath said he couldn’t recall any other cases at the hospital in which alleged negligence had led to the death of a pregnant woman.