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Kampong Cham doctors transferred for leaving towel in patient

Kampong Cham doctors transferred for leaving towel in patient

Two medical doctors in Kampong Cham province who accidentally left a small towel inside a woman’s abdomen after a C-section last October have been transferred to technical positions at the provincial Health Department, where they will not operate on patients, an official said today.

Kim Sulphirun, director of the Kampong Cham Provincial Health Department, said the two doctors were removed from their medical surgeon positions at the Provincial Referral Hospital on March 1.

Sulphirun wouldn’t directly answer why the pair faced only a transfer. Both doctors had been working as surgeons since 2012.

“They [were] just careless in their operation,” he said. “When we moved them to the new place, they will not be careless with another [patient] because their work there is simple, to educate people about malaria and dengue fever.”
He said this would prevent them from making further medical errors during operations.

“They only educate people . . . so [that’s] not life-threatening,” he added. Disciplinary action from the Medical Council of Cambodia is still pending, however.

In late February, a woman received $7,000 in compensation after doctors in a private clinic in Phnom Penh in January discovered that the small towel inside her abdomen was the cause of severe stomach pains she had been experiencing. She had travelled to the capital to seek medical treatment after suffering from severe stomach pains.

The woman, Dim Sreymum, from Kong Meas district, gave birth to a boy through C-section at the Kampong Cham Provincial Referral Hospital in October.

Chum Sopha, executive director for the NGO Health and Development Alliance, said the discipline the doctors received was inadequate.

“If it’s only a transfer, it’s not appropriate,” he said. “It doesn’t [constitute] any punishment.”

Sopha said Cambodia for years has been trying to improve the skills of doctors performing C-sections.

“The problem in Cambodia [is a] lack of qualified doctors,” he said.

A representative of the Medical Council of Cambodia yesterday asked that questions regarding what kind of action the council will take against the two doctors be sent via email, but did not respond to emailed questions as of press time. Thea Kruy, president of the council, also did not respond to a request for comment on the case.

But as of July 2016, the council’s complaint system had limited resources for investigations, and no doctor had been officially disciplined by the council, an official told The Post at the time.

Additional reporting by Yesenia Amaro

Updated: 10:55am, Friday 9 March 2018