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Probe into hospital death of baby girl as director rebuts family

The Public Health Ministry on Monday set up a fact-finding committee to probe the death of an 18-month-old baby girl after the parents blamed Sa Kaew’s Somdej Phra Yupparat Hospital’s emergency unit being reportedly closed as a key contributing factor.


Public Health Ministry spokeswoman Dr Panpimol Wipulakorn said the case might stem from a misunderstanding, as her initial inquiry found that the unit was open as usual at the time. She said the fact-finding panel had already started its investigation.

“The ministry offered its condolence to the family about what happened. The hospital director has already provided some initial aid to the family,” she said.

Panpimol also said that personnel in hospital emergency units normally screened patients to discern if their condition required emergency treatment or they could be treated as per normal procedures.

During the hospital’s press conference on May 5, the hospital director, Dr Phuwadol Kittiwattanasarn, told reporters that the girl’s mother had brought her at 2pm on May 3 to seek treatment for high fever, vomiting and diarrhea. A doctor diagnosed the girl with ulcerative colitis and provided her appropriate medicine before sending her home, he said.

Phuwadol said the mother came at 6.13am on May 4 and chatted with an employee in front of the emergency unit, leading to a misunderstanding that the unit was closed and would open at 7am. The mother then took the girl to an out-patient building.

As her daughter’s condition worsened, the mother at 7.02am brought the girl back to the emergency unit, by which time the girl’s vital signs were weak and she had severe dehydration, Phusadol said. The doctor and staff provided medical assistance and tried to revive her three times between 7.35am and 8.57am. The girl was pronounced dead at 9.35am, he said.

The director said the hospital was “deeply sorry for what happened and accepted the mistake [and would] improve its service for people’s safety”.

Phusadol said the hospital handled 400 patients daily and when a patient’s high fever has lowered, doctors may recommend that they recover at home. He said that this case might stem from a problem in communication that led to a misunderstanding. The emergency unit was not closed and verifying the patient’s card and information could have been done after the emergency patient had received needed treatment.

His account differed from that previously related by the girl’s relatives. A Facebook post by the deceased girl’s relative, Marut Khumee, said the baby had severe diarrhoea and a 40-degree Celsius fever. The doctor gave her the medicine for diarrhea and fever, along with some mineral powder, Marut wrote, while the nurse washed and wiped the girl’s body until her fever was down to 38 degree Celsius before sending her home, despite the parents’ request that she stay at the hospital for a night just in case the problem returned.

The girl’s condition worsened at 2am, wrote Marut, and the parents, having rushed her to the hospital, were told by a staff member that the emergency unit was closed and instructed them to fill out forms at another building and wait. By the time the unit was opened and many people were rushing to use the emergency services, it was too late for the girl, who passed away, wrote the Facebook user while calling for the hospital to take responsibility.   Nation

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