The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Thursday charged four medical workers with involuntary manslaughter in the death of a 29-year-old woman who bled to death after giving birth to her first child, court officials said Friday.
Visal Maternity Clinic Director Dr Chuong Sothy, along with three of his medical workers—Dr Meth Pheng, Ung Ratana and Meas Sopheavy—were all charged with involuntary manslaughter as well as the forgery of the patient’s discharge document, Deputy Prosecutor Heang Sopheak said.
“I already charged them with involuntary manslaughter and the involuntary forgery of the document,” Mr Sopheak said, adding that Visal Maternity Clinic had also “unintentionally” issued a letter dated May 21 stating that Kuch Bophany, 29, had successfully delivered a 3 kg baby girl and was released from the clinic four days later in good health.
“The person died on the 19th [of May], but the release document that was dated the 21st says her health was normal,” he said.
Chhim Leang Ay, 30, a Phnom Penh-based schoolteacher and husband of the deceased woman, lodged a complaint with the municipal court on May 25, initially seeking to prosecute Dr Sothy and Mr Pheng and demanding $500,000 for his wife’s death after their daughter’s birth. But after questioning Dr Sothy in early June, Mr Sopheak decided to seek charges against three other staff members.
Dr Sothy said Friday that he had not yet seen the charges against him, but confirmed that three of his staff members were involved.
“I had asked my lawyer about this and he told me that he has not seen the charges,” Dr Sothy said. “I do not know why the court charged us while the negotiation is under way.”
Mrs Bophany was admitted to the maternity ward of Visal Clinic on Street 136 in Phsar Kandal II commune, Daun Penh district on May 19 at 2:30 am, where she had routinely received medical advice during her pregnancy. She died a few hours after delivering her baby girl.
Under the 1992 Untac criminal code, involuntary manslaughter—which typically refers to unintentional deaths caused by carelessness or negligence—carries a sentence of one to three years, and forgery can fetch a sentence of up to five years.
The charges come just two months after another former schoolteacher, Nhem Tyhem Marin, 59, lodged a separate malpractice complaint to the Phnom Penh court claiming that two doctors had seriously disfigured her face in a botched operation on her ear in 2008.