Police in Pursat province arrested an unlicensed doctor on Tuesday evening, after a woman he treated died hours after receiving an injection intended to stop her vomiting and diarrhoea.
Pun Lorn, 49, died at about 1:30am on Tuesday, after her husband had asked Chhun Sarom, 61, to come to their house in Phnom Kravanh district’s Phteah Rong commune on Monday evening to treat the woman.
Sarom reportedly injected Lorn with a serum and left two more vials with the husband to administer later on.
“Chhun Sarom had knowledge of medicine from when he lived in the [refugee] camps, and villagers often recovered from diseases after this doctor treated them,” said district police chief Vong Saveth.
According to Saveth, Sarom initially refused to treat the woman, but relented after the victim’s family begged him.
Saveth said the family did not go to the police when Lorn died, but the authorities were alerted by the provincial Health Department over the fact Sarom does not hold a licence to work as a doctor.
Sarom, who is also a journalist with local newspaper Ta Prom, was detained at Pursat provincial police station for further questioning.
Phteah Rong commune chief Roeung Savuth said yesterday Sarom had worked as a doctor in the area for many years, and was sought after by local villagers.
He said Sarom was among 11 unlicensed doctors operating in the area who had signed an agreement with the local authority in February pledging to stop giving treatment.
“They did not have the specific skills or a permission certificate from the Ministry of Health, so we were afraid it would affect the villagers’ lives,” he said.
However, Savuth said this marks the first case of a patient in the area dying after being treated by an unlicensed doctor.
Savuth said Health Department officials had sent the medicine that Sarom gave Lorn for examination, to discover whether she died as a result of the medicine or her illness.
Sarom has preliminarily been charged with unintentional murder, he said.
Pursat provincial Health Department director Khouy Dy yesterday declined to comment on the matter.
The case comes less than a year after an unlicensed doctor in Battambang province’s Roka commune allegedly infected at least 260 people with HIV, after reusing needles.
In June, Sem Pov, 76, became the ninth person from the commune to die from medical problems related to the virus.
The unlicensed doctor at the centre of the scandal, Yem Chroeum, is still awaiting trial.