Family of Woman Whose Intestine Cut After Stillbirth Surgery Calls for Legal Action

3 min read
The Ministry of Health, as pictured on its Facebook page.
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Relatives of a woman who had surgery to remove a stillborn baby at a private hospital in Kampong Speu’s Kong Pisey district are demanding authorities take legal action against the hospital after she sustained serious injuries while receiving medical care.

The Ministry of Health has temporarily closed the hospital to investigate.

Pheng Sreyleak, the sister of Sieng Srey Oun, told VOD on Wednesday that the episode began when Srey Oun went to get a checkup for her five-month-old pregnancy and find out the unborn baby’s sex at Doeum Angkrang hospital.

During the checkup, the doctor said that the baby was not moving, but told her to go to another hospital to verify that the pregnancy had been lost. Then she could come back for surgery at Doeum Angkrang hospital, they said.

After more checkups at other hospitals, relatives said, Srey Oun confirmed the unborn child was dead and returned to Doeum Angkrang hospital to remove the fetus. A few days later, Srey Oun experienced pain in her stomach and came back to the hospital, where doctors first inspected her before performing surgery for the second time, during which they mistakenly cut off her intestine, the family said.

Srey Oun is now gravely ill and being treated at Calmette Hospital, Sreyleak said. Doctors there told the family that she can survive longer if they buy an artificial intestine to replace her current intestine or reconnect it.

“I asked the relevant authorities to take legal action and find justice for my sister because … there is no justice for my sister at all. I asked the doctor to take responsibility for my sister,” she added.

Dr. Suos Chanraksmey, who is in charge of the Doeum Angkrang hospital, could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

The Ministry of Health said it would temporarily close Doeum Angkrang hospital so that experts could review and investigate the incident and potentially take legal action; spokesperson Or Vandine told VOD that the Ministry is “taking action according to procedures.” 

In a statement Friday, the ministry said the hospital was “careless” in allowing a midwife to act as a nurse, adding that Srey Oun was receiving support for treatment from the prime minister’s wife Bun Rany, who is also head of the Cambodian Red Cross.

The statement went on to say the midwife did not have training in pregnancy termination procedures and the practice went against the ministry’s technical principles. It did not explicitly say whether the intestine was cut during the initial procedure or during a secondary surgery, as the sister said.

Another spokesperson, Youk Sambath, and Hok Kimcheng, general director of the ministry’s technical department, said they were busy.

Srey Oun is from Kampot province’s Chumkiri district and works at a Kampong Speu factory, Sreyleak said. This pregnancy was her second, Sreyleak said.

Pav Sina, president of Collective Union of Movement of Workers for garment workers, called on the Ministry of Health to take further action against Doeum Angkrang hospital, saying that the incident is not the first to affect pregnant workers and that doctors at private hospitals should be tested before allowing them to operate their businesses.

“A hospital operated by a group of doctors without clear skills will cause danger to clients as well as patients who are looking for their treatment service,” he said.

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