Ministry concludes case of death at French-invested hospital

09:00 | 26/11/2012
The exact cause of death of a Hanoi resident at FV Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City this August can only be identified after an upcoming autopsy, Vietnam’s Ministry of Health announced last week.

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The ministry’s ad hoc professional council researching  the cause of death of patient Mai Trung Kien concluded that what resulted in his death was “secondary haemorrhage due to the administration of anti-coagulant drugs after appendectomy and acute myocardial ischemia in a patient with many risks – 4 coronary artery bypasses and a cerebrovascular accident.”

The announcement said the conclusion was based on the analysis of the medical records provided by FV and Tam Duc hospitals.

The council requested French-invested FV to organise the study, conduct an indepth review, and correct the individuals and teams who had made professional, technical mistakes in medical examination and treatment of the patient, according to the judgement rendered by the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Health.

The case of the 57-year-old Kien has lasted for three months. On August 8, he was brought to FV with symptoms of appendicitis. His daughters told doctors he used to have heart disease and was taking anticoagulation medicine. An appendectomy was then performed. Two days later, Kien complained of chest and abdominal pains, and FV doctors diagnosed him with a heart attack. FV then transferred him to Tam Duc heart hospital next door, where doctors found that his appendectomy had internal bleeding and he was in critical conditions due to blood loss. He was brought back to FV immediately for another medical operation, but his heart stopped very early August 12 before surgery could happen.

The city Department of Health concluded August 29 that the reason of Kien’s death was internal bleeding after surgery and the hospital failed to make timely diagnoses and treatments on this internal bleeding. FV disputed those findings and brought the case to the Ministry of Health.

On November 22, FV held the first-ever press conference on the case. FV CEO doctor Jean-Marcel Guillon said, “As doctors, we strive to heal all, but, sometimes, higher powers or the gods have other plans for us. And despite our best efforts, not every life can be saved.

“As we have admitted from the outset, FV Hospital’s diagnosis of the bleeding was late, but the professional council confirmed that the cardiac problems deviated our diagnosis and that FV Hospital accurately diagnosed the heart problems and gave the right treatment. Nonetheless, we are reviewing our risk-priority protocols to try to ensure that, in a patient with many risk factors, one symptom does not mask another, and multiple symptoms are balanced by priority of risk.”

“The mistake of FV Hospital did not directly cause the death of this patient,” he added, citing the council’s conclusion.

“We are also reminded that doctors are human beings too, with human souls and emotions. I would turn to the fact that the council has conclusively confirmed that Dr. Le Duc Tuan, our surgeon in this case, made no mistake whatsoever, either in his diagnosis of the emergency appendicitis or in performing the appendectomy surgery.

“However, for 3 months now, Dr. Tuan has been under attack because he has been judged without reference to the medical facts. His wife and children have suffered along with him the indignities of these attacks and he has been stopped from performing his beloved surgery since this nightmare started. This is unjust and we should all consider if this is how we should treat those whose lifework is to save our lives.”

The council includes prestigious medical doctors such as Prof. Pham Gia Khanh, former director of the Army Institute of Medicine; Prof. Pham Gia Khai, chairman of the Cardiovascular Association of Vietnam; Prof. Vu Van Dinh, former chairman of the Association of Resuscitation-Emergency and Antitoxication of Vietnam, and Prof. Nguyen Anh Tri, chairman of the Association of Haematology-Blood Transfusion of Vietnam.

The FV CEO also announced that nine foreign doctors at the hospital were already back at work with their new registrations with the Ministry of Health.

Guillon was mentioning the suspension of the foreign doctors while they were waiting for new registration procedures to be finalised. “Now that these administrative procedures have been done, we are pleased to confirm that our foreign doctors get back to work.”

Guillon said despite all the difficulties FV has faced in this case, his hospital would continue to accept high-risk patients for treatment.

“Even if in doing so, we risk extremely adverse media coverage. In Vietnam there is a famous proverb – adversity brings wisdom. And we are expecting that all the adversity we have experienced in the last 3 months will bring us much wisdom.

Regarding the compensation for the patient’s family, Guillon said FV would observe court rulings.

By Tuong Thuy

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