Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Woman’s death prompts scrutiny of unlicensed clinic

Woman’s death prompts scrutiny of unlicensed clinic

Woman’s death prompts scrutiny of unlicensed clinic

The Ministry of Health is warning patients to avoid unlicensed health clinics after a woman who was treated at an illegal facility in Siem Reap died earlier this week.

The provincial health department said yesterday that while it believes the woman’s death was caused by Guillain-Barré syndrome – a rare and untreatable nerve disorder – and not by the facility’s treatment, it will still take action against the clinic for operating illegally.

“We, the Siem Reap Provincial Health Department, will continue to work on this issue as we do not allow anyone to run a private clinic without a legal licence,” said Kros Sarath, director of the department.

At the beginning of this month, the victim, 23, sought medical advice for an itch on her head from Dr Hong Meng Thai at a clinic of the same name in Siem Reap’s Bakong district, her family told the Post yesterday. She was given no diagnosis but received two injections and oral medication, according to her sister.

“I didn’t bring her to hospital because … I thought it was not a serious illness,” her father said.

But shortly after the clinic visit, the patient began experiencing numbness in her hands and then her legs. After three days, she returned to the doctor, who said he was too busy to see her, the patient’s family said.

Suffering from rapidly decreasing mobility, the patient went to the Siem Reap provincial hospital one day later and was told to seek emergency medical assistance in Phnom Penh. The family took her to Calmette Hospital, where “the doctor told us that 70 per cent of her body was dead already and that maybe it was because of … using the wrong medicine”, her father said.

The Calmette doctors told the family there was nothing more they could do, and so the family took their daughter home, where she died on Monday.

The family lodged a complaint about the clinic with district police, who discovered that the clinic, which had just opened this month, was not licensed.

When the Post called the clinic, the man who answered said he was not a doctor and not aware of a Dr Meng Thai.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY LAIGNEE BARRON

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