A Svay Rieng provincial official yesterday acknowledged there were “minor” medical errors in a case at the provincial referral hospital that led to the death of a 49-year-old man who underwent surgery to repair three factures in one of his femurs and never woke up.
The family’s victim filed a complaint with provincial authorities on Friday, which follows a report that had already been submitted by the Provincial Health Department three days after the man’s June 12 death.
Kae Rotha, director of the Provincial Health Department, said his department convened a meeting to review the fatality, during which medical mistakes were identified.
The review found that the patient, Pin Chamnan, suffered from severe bleeding during the operation – something doctors weren’t able to prevent.
“They needed to [pay] much attention to blood [loss] prevention,” he said. They had “to be very careful”.
A fault was also identified in the process of administering anesthesia, he added. An anesthesiologist with 20 years of experience administered two injections before leaving his assistant, who only had studied anesthesiology for six months, to monitor the patient.
“The flaw is that he let this assistant take care of this patient,” he said, noting that the province suffers from a shortage of anesthesiologists.
Kong Sokhoeun, 50, the victim’s wife, said her husband was admitted into the provincial referral hospital on June 6 after being involved in a motorbike accident. She maintained that on June 12, right before the surgery, her husband was fully conscious, and even asked her to change his clothes.
“After the operation, the doctors called me into the room and said my husband was dead,” she said.
Sokhoeun said she filed a complaint with Provincial Governor Svay Sam Eang because the doctors were “very careless”. She added that they performed the operation without having enough extra blood on hand, and they overdid the anesthesia.
Chan Dara, director of the provincial referral hospital, confirmed that the victim never regained consciousness after the surgery. He also said he needed 750 millilitres of blood.
However, he added, it’s “unavoidable” that patients die. “It’s something unexpected,” he said. “We assumed he may have . . . [had] a stroke.”
Dara also maintained that the surgery to repair the fractured bone took place six days after the victim had been admitted into the hospital because the patient needed to be stabilised first. He said an X-ray had been performed on the day he was admitted to the hospital.
“I think from this incident, we need to strengthen our operations,” he said. Rotha said his department submitted a report on the case on June 15 to Sam Eang to make a decision on what action should be taken. Sam Eang said he hadn’t yet seen the complaint.
The Medical Council of Cambodia didn’t respond to a request for comment, and Ministry of Health Spokesman Ly Sovann referred questions to another official who couldn’t be reached for comment.