A Bangkok hospital was accused of sending a 38-year-old woman, who had sustained injuries after her jealous husband splashed acid on her face at 5am on Friday, to another hospital for which she has subscribed to a universal healthcare scheme or “gold card” but the woman reportedly died in the taxi on the way in front of her 12-year-old daughter.
Praram 2 Hospital adviser Dr Peera Kananuwaton yesterday told the press, quoting from the nurse’s report of the incident, that the woman’s symptoms were deemed as non-critical, as she was conscious and was able to answer questions and had level-1 chemical burns and normal blood pressure.
The doctor claimed the woman had told the staff about her wish to be treated at Bang Mod Hospital, which was located not far away. So the staff sent her in a taxi and gave her daughter Bt40 for the fare.
Peera also contended that the woman did not die in the taxi on the way – which would have fallen under his hospital’s responsibility – but she had died at Bang Mod Hospital.
Hospital director Dr Wallapa Chaimanowong offered condolences to the deceased patient’s family and affirmed that the hospital had no reason to deny the patient, as they could have got the medical bill reimbursed from the government. She said the patient had expressed her wish to get a treatment under the “gold card” subscription and the nurse assessed the wound as non-critical so she was allowed to go.
The hospital’s explanation to reporters enraged Atchariya Ruangratanapong, a lawyer and chairman of a Facebook group assisting crime victims. He went with the victim’s daughter and relatives yesterday morning to protest by carrying the victim’s body in a coffin around the hospital compound.
As Peera offered his explanations, the victim’s relatives shouted angry words, the victim’s daughter broke into tears while Atchariya demanded that the hospital reveal CCTV footage to back its claim. Peera did not accede to their requests and went ahead with his explanation.
Atchariya reportedly shouted that he would have the medical profession licence of the responsible party revoked. He said he would request police to probe the case and would file a complaint with the Public Health Ministry against the hospital, as he claimed there was no doctor available at the time but only nurses.
Atchariya said he wanted the hospital to explain and take responsibility for their actions, as the woman should have been considered an emergency patient and hence not allowed to seek treatment elsewhere, which resulted in her death. He claimed this could be both criminal and civil offences. Atchariya said he would ask for a copy of the autopsy result from Tha Kham police soon.
According to Tha Kham police Superintendent Pol Colonel Apirat Phumkumar, the husband, who had fled after splashing his wife’s face with acid at home, was not yet in custody and police expected to arrest him soon.
According to the victim’s daughter, she and her injured mother hailed a taxi from home to Bang Mod Hospital but the taxi driver suggested that they instead go to Praram 2 Hospital as it was nearer. When they reached there, the nurse checked and initially washed the wounds and wrapped a bandage before asking about the patient’s healthcare scheme. The daughter reportedly said her mother had a “gold card” scheme with Bang Mod Hospital.
The nurse asked them either to treat there or treat at the subscribed facility before giving them Bt40 fare and putting them in a taxi. On the way, the mother’s condition worsened and she was in such pain that she passed out, the daughter said. A Bang Mod Hospital doctor tried to resuscitate her but they later told her that her mother had died.
Meanwhile, Dr Nattawut Prasertsiripong, director-general of the Health Service Support Department, commented that he had already instructed officials to conduct a fact-finding probe over the allegation of the private hospital denying the acid victim treatment. He said the probe would investigate key points, including whether the hospital had sufficiently assessed and treated the emergency patient and, if necessary or if the patient wished to be treated elsewhere, whether the hospital had arranged for appropriate patient referral. If the hospital were deemed to have failed to act appropriately, the department would impose a punishment for violation of the Health Facility Act, BE 2541.
Nattawut urged all private hospitals to maintain the morality and humanitarian principle in helping patients and injured persons. In cases where people witnessed a private hospital turning down an emergency patient in Bangkok, he urged them to call the department via phone at 02 193 7000 extension 18618 during office hours and, for those upcountry, to call a respective provincial health office.