| Hospital has to pay, court rules|
Published on September 17, 2005
In a rare victory for a plaintiff in a medical-malpractice case, the Nonthaburi Provincial Court yesterday found in favour of a woman who filed for financial compensation over the death of her mother three years ago after an appendicitis operation.
The court ordered the Public Health Ministry to pay Sirimas Kaewkhongchan, 22, Bt600,000 in damages as a result of malpractice at Ron Phibun district hospital in Nakhon Si Thammarat.
It ruled that the hospital had been negligent while performing an operation on Somkhuan Kaewkhongchan, 49, on May 19, 2002, without an anaesthetist or sufficient equipment and causing her death 16 days later.
For an instance of medical malpractice it described as not serious, the court ordered the ministry to pay the compensation, plus 7.5 per cent interest backdated to June 5, 2002, when Somkhuan died.
Sirimas filed a civil suit with the Nonthaburi court last year and called for about Bt2 million in compensation for the loss of her mother.
Speaking after the hearing yesterday, she said she had not intended suing the hospital and all she had really wanted was to find out why her mother had died. After she had her mothers body examined by the Police Forensic Science Institute in Bangkok, she was told that Somkhuan had not died of appendicitis as the hospital claimed but from a mistake during local anaesthesia.
Sirimas said the doctors who performed the operation had refused to accept that it was their fault and simply offered Bt50,000 in compensation.
The Medical Council, with which Sirimas also filed a complaint, ruled that her complaint was groundless and that the doctors met the standards of medical practice.
I remember hearing my mother screaming very loudly during the operation. When I ran in to see her lying on the bed with a hugely inflated stomach, the doctors told me she had just stopped breathing, Sirimas said.
Her unconscious mother was then transferred to a large hospital in an ill-equipped ambulance that had no oxygen ventilator. The old woman eventually died.
I am very glad to hear the ruling, because the public scarcely ever wins in such cases, she said.
I never expected to win or wanted the money. I just wanted my mother back.
After their mothers death, teenaged Sirimas and her two younger siblings were forced to drop out of school because their paralysed father was unable to cope.
The compensation will enable Sirimas and her siblings to go back to school and further their education, she said.
Under bureaucratic regulations, the Public Health Ministry is required to appeal the ruling within a month, said Dr Rewat Visarutavetch, the director-general of the Department of Health Service Support.
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