The Phnom Penh Municipal Court will question on Tuesday a woman who was left disfigured by surgery she says was botched by doctors at a hospital in the capital, a case that experts say is one of the few medical malpractice claims ever to come before the courts.
Som Chandina, the lawyer representing the plaintiff, Nhem Tyhem Marin, 59, a former primary school teacher in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district, said last week that the court will question his client regarding her May 11 complaint against Duong Chheak, a medical staff member at Calmette Hospital, and Ly Bunchhoeun, a medical officer at Preah Ang Duong hospital.
Som Chandina said that the surgery, performed by the doctors, for an ear complaint, left one side of her face paralyzed. She is demanding $100,000 in compensation, he added.
A court clerk said Deputy Prosecutor Heang Sopheak summoned Ms Marin to appear Tuesday, and the two doctors to appear at the court on June 8 to respond to the allegations.
Dr Chheak and Dr Bunchhoeun said Wednesday that they had not received their summons but said they would attend court when they are summoned.
“If I am wrong, I will be responsible to the law. A doctor merely wants to be famous by treating patient successfully,” Dr Bunchhoeun said Tuesday. “We have no intention to mistreat a patient. Such a complaint as hers is going too far,” he said.
Rith Bunroeun, networking coordinator of Medicam, an umbrella group of health organizations working in Cambodia, said on Friday that he had never before heard of a case in which a patient sues a doctor.
“I have never seen a legal case like in Pailin and this case,” Mr Bunroeun said, referring to the court case in the northwest of the country in which a woman died in childbirth, allegedly after doctors in Pailin refused to treat her unless they were paid a large sum of money beforehand.
At most Medicam public forums on the health system in Cambodia the public usually complains about doctors extorting money for treatment, not malpractice, he added.
The court cases in Pailin and Phnom Penh prove that there is redress for alleged poor ethics and practices among health officers in Cambodia, he said.