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Paediatricians summoned over death of 16-month-old

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Dr Nhep Angkeabos, the director of the National Paediatric Hospital of Cambodia, has been summoned for questioning. Hong Menea

Paediatricians summoned over death of 16-month-old

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court summoned the director of the National Paediatric Hospital of Cambodia and another doctor to testify next week following a complaint from the parents of a toddler who died after treatment last month.

Hai Long and Chom Sreypov, the parents of the 16-month-old, filed a complaint with the court on June 18 against hospital director Dr Nhep Angkeabos and Dr Sar Chetra, accusing them of negligence.

Court prosecutor Um Sopheak issued a summons on July 1 for the two to testify in court on the morning of July 17 as a response to the complaint.

“They are summoned by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court prosecutor [to be present] on July 17, at 8:30am to clarify the complaint dated June 18 by Hai Long and Chom Sreypov on charges of negligence causing their child’s death,” Sopheak said.

The Post could not reach Dr Angkeabos for comment on Monday.

Ung Sophal, Infection Control chief and deputy director of the hospital’s Technical Office, told The Post that a team of doctors had striven to save the child, adding that he was in critical condition. He had “two brutal illnesses” and could not be saved, Sophal said.

Sophal could not confirm whether or not the two doctors would testify in court.

The complaint stated that on the morning of June 14, Long and Sreypov had taken their fever-stricken child to the hospital.

At 1pm the same day, a doctor had administered a vaccine and placed the toddler on a drip, after a check-up revealed the child had mild dengue fever. However, he died at 5:55am on June 15.

Long told The Post on Monday that after his son died, Chetra and four other doctors approached them to make a deal, promising that the hospital would settle the case. They agreed to take their son’s body and hold a funeral in Prey Veng province.

With nobody taking responsibility, the parents decided to file a complaint with the court to seek justice for their son, Long said.

“No child ever wants to die. The hospital was so negligent that my son died. I cannot accept it . . . my son was still able to eat and sit up normally. When it came to treatment, we thought: ‘this is a big hospital’. We put our trust in it 100 per cent, so we went ahead and took our son there,” he stressed.

The letter of clarification released by the hospital’s committee said the child tested positive not only for dengue but also Enterovirus 71 (EV71) – a virus which causes severe neurological disease as well as rashes in the mouth, hands and legs.

Children under two years old are especially vulnerable to EV71. The virus takes its toll on the nervous system and causes lung and heart failure resulting in rapid death.

“The cause of the child’s death was a rapidly swelling lung. He had contracted dengue fever and had an EV71 infection."

“The hospital’s committee offers its deep condolences to the family because it could not rescue the child, despite having saved thousands of other children,” the letter said.

Long said he and Sreypov demand that the hospital take responsibility for the incident and compensate them with $32,000. He expressed hope that the court would provide them with legal justice for the loss of their son’s life.