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Hospital denies cruel prank led to death

The management of Ratchaburi Hospital on Tuesday denied a member of their staff mocked an emergency caller who later lost her father.

Dr Pichian Wuthisathirapinyo, director of the hospital, held a press conference in response to an allegation that someone working on his 1669 call hotline on Sunday told an 18-year-old woman that he could not hear her and imitated a busy signal before hanging up.

The woman was seeking an ambulance for her father, who had severe breathing difficulty and chest pain. The 53-year-old man, Pisit Ongpisut, was pronounced dead at the hospital.

The person who took the call insisted that he had no intention to mock her and felt very sorry for the loss, Dr Pichian said.

“The patient’s relative might not have heard some words and thus misunderstood. I understand that the relative was worried at that moment out of concern for her father,” the director said.

He explained that an ambulance reached the family within only seven minutes, faster than the eight-minute standard.

Caller Pronrawin Ongpisut, 18, wrote on Facebook that she first called the hospital at 7.13 am on Sunday, and hospital staff told her they would send an ambulance. Four minutes later she made a second call because her father’s chest pain and breathing difficulty had worsened and an ambulance had yet to arrive.

The second call was not answered, she said. A minute later, she made a third call. When a man answered, she tearfully asked him why the ambulance was slow in arriving.

She quoted the man as saying twice that he could not hear her, and then imitating a busy signal before hanging up. She also wrote that she did not deserve to be teased at that critical moment and that an ambulance arrived at 7.20 am.

Her father died of coronary artery disease.

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