Patient Death Blamed on Doctors’ Holiday Leave

The parents of a man who died at the Svay Rieng provincial referral hospital of wounds sustained in a motorbike crash say their son might have survived if doctors had not been absent from work celebrating Chinese New Year, and are planning to file a complaint against the hospital Monday.

Uk Say, the father of 25-year-old In Sem, who was taken to the hospital on Tuesday following a head-on collision on National Road 1 in Svay Rieng City, said his son had to wait 20 hours for a full examination and was denied vital treatment.

“On the morning after the day he was admitted, my son was groaning because of pain in his stomach,” Mr. Say said Sunday. “We called for doctors to help, but medical staff said they were busy on Chinese New Year and they didn’t have enough doctors.”

Mr. Say said that his son, a construction worker, was taken to the hospital in an ambulance at about 7 p.m. Tuesday, but that doctors did not examine him until the following afternoon.

“The doctors came to do an ultrasound scan at 2 p.m. and claimed they could not help because my son had serious damage to his intestines and bladder,” he said.

His son died four hours later, Mr. Say said. He added that he planned to file a complaint against the hospital with provincial authorities today.

The director of the hospital, Chan Dara, rejected the family’s accusations.

“We don’t have any doctors like that. When the victim arrived at the hospital, he was unconscious and so seriously injured that we could not rescue him,” Dr. Dara said.

Oep Oann, who has worked in the health sector for 15 years and was a regional coordinator for the NGO Medicam until earlier this year, said that unauthorized absences by doctors during Chinese New Year are widespread.

“As my personal remark, generally in every hospital in some departments there is a problem that they just leave some nurse or somebody who is not a doctor to look after the patients,” he said.

“Doctors just come in sometimes during Chinese New Year and then they go back to their home.”

(Additional reporting by Jamie Elliott)

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