Incompetence, Not Greed, Killed Woman, Twins

A Ministry of Health probe into the deaths of a pregnant Banteay Meanchey province mother and her unborn twins on June 15 has con­cluded that hospital staff did not refuse to treat the woman be­cause she could not afford to pay them.

The newspaper Cambodia To­day re­ported Friday that Chan Thy, 42, and her twins died be­cause her family could not afford to pay an addi­tion­al $1.25 to workers at Thma Puok District Re­­ferral Hospital.

“The death was not involved with money,” Health Ministry Un­dersecretary of State Hem Chhin said Monday.

He added that the investigation failed to find any evidence that a me­dic and nurse re­fused to treat the wo­­man after she was able to pay only $8.75 in­stead of the $10 that the newspaper alleged that hospital staff de­man­ded.

Hem Chhin said Chan Thy died of toxemia of pregnancy, which medical staff were unable to treat.

“The nurses did not demand the money, but they are not very well qualified…it was beyond their ability [to treat the woman],” he said.

Banteay Meanchey Health De­part­ment Director Chhum Van­nar­ith said health officials questioned hospital staff and relatives of the de­ceased woman. They all denied a re­quest for mon­ey was made, he said.

“The [newspaper] report dis­cour­aged my staff from doing their jobs,” Chhum Vannarith said. “The death has nothing to do with financial issues.”

But Chhum Vannarith added that the hospital staff neglected the patient during a meal break.

“If we are talking about the code of conduct of the health officer[s], they were wrong… They went to eat far away from the patient,” he said.

The woman should be have been rushed to the provincial hospital in Banteay Meanchey town, he said, adding: “Toxemia is a condition that requires an operation immediately.”

In the wake of the death, some of the hospital’s staff will be asked to go to Phnom Penh for intensive training, Hem Chhin said.


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