Man claims malpractice led to wife’s death in childbirth

By: Phak Seangly

A husband is suing a Preah Vihear doctor for allegedly covering up negligent behaviour that led to his wife’s death during childbirth.

The suit is the second formal complaint lodged against an employee of 16 Makara Preah Vihear Provincial Referral Hospital’s maternity ward in as many months.

Im Vibol, 43, alleges in his complaint that doctor Mom Rithy should be charged with intentional murder because his wife, 38-year-old Var Chansim, died under her care on April 7.

He claims Rithy and several “unqualified” assistants used a suction tool to remove the baby from Chansim after it became apparent she needed help with the birth. The misuse of the equipment led the child to suffer brain damage and Chansim to die from blood loss, Vibol claims.

He also alleges that, in a panic, Rithy tried to trick him into signing a permission form for an operation that she claimed could save his wife’s life after Chansim was already dead.

“Mom Rithy and her unqualified assistants are not good at their jobs and they just pulled my baby out and caused my wife to die. They also tried to trick me into signing” away the right to file a complaint, he said.

He was told his wife needed surgery or she would die “in five minutes”, but the paper pushed into his hands was blank. The doctor would not let him into the room to see his wife, he added, and returned 30 minutes later to tell him Chansim had died.

“I was fooled by the doctor. In fact, my wife had died already when our child was pumped out of her. The doctor just worked on the dead body,” Vibol said.

He added that the baby would have also died if it was not sent immediately to Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospital in Phnom Penh for treatment.

Lor Chan, Preah Vihear provincial coordinator for local rights group Adhoc, said Vibol’s case was only the latest in a series of alleged instances of malpractice involving patients on the maternity ward.

Kuoy Lou, the hospital director, said that all staff at the hospital had acted professionally and tried their best to save Chansim’s life. The procedure had been properly explained to the family, who had read the permission letter, he added.