Battambang Provincial Court summoned five staffers from a Pailin province hospital to answer questions concerning the death of a 37-year-old pregnant woman following a complaint by her husband that they refused to treat her because she couldn’t pay a $25 fee.
Chhoun Makkara, Pailin provincial coordinator for local rights group Adhoc, said Mith Ran, 48, had filed a complaint with his organization to help investigate the death of his wife, Vorn Yoeub, on March 16.
Mr Chhoun Makkara said Mr Mith Ran has alleged that five staffers from Pailin Provincial Referral Hospital demanded $25 from his wife before delivering her baby. She had checked in at 11 pm but was left for hours before receiving any attention, which led to her death.
“When she began having contractions, her husband went to knock on the door [of the staff’s sleeping quarters] three times, and they only opened the third time,” Mr Chhoun Makkara said.
The four medical workers told Mr Mith Ran that due to the severity of his wife’s pain, they could not perform the delivery, and that only Dr Ang Neang, the hospital’s deputy director, who was not present at the time, could help his wife, he said. After he agreed to buy the staff a $5 mobile phone card, they lent Mr Mith Ran a telephone to call Dr Ang Neang, Mr Chhoun Makkara said.
After he arrived, the deputy director and the four staffers then asked for a service fee, he said.
“They demanded 100,000 riel for the delivery service, and [Mr Mith Ran] said that he didn’t have it and asked them to help deliver the birth first, and then he would borrow the money to pay later,” Mr Chhoun Makkara said. “The medical people blamed him for not having just 100,000 riel,” he said. At 3 am, Ms Vorn Yoeub died, leaving behind her husband and seven children.
Deputy Prosecutor Koy Kannya said the court has called Dr Ang Neang, Prak Sokhon, Yin Buntha, Luy Chantha and Seng Sarath to appear at Battambang Provincial Court on May 19 but declined to provide further details.
Contact details for the five staffers were not available Wednesday; however, Pailin provincial health department’s director Seng Ran said that Ms Vorn Yoeub’s death was due to injuries to her womb sustained from a fall on the stairs of her house.
“She fell down at the house so her womb was injured, and when giving birth, [the womb] was pierced,” Mr Seng Ran said, before declining to comment
Pailin provincial police chief Ley Chan Chhay also said that the death was the fault of the Ms Vorn Yoeub herself for not telling the midwives in advance that she had fallen. “If she told them that she fell off a hammock and the stairs, they would have hurried,” Mr Ley Chan Chhay said.