Doctor, nurse face charges in maternal death in central Vietnam

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Thousands of people followed a car transporting the coffins of a pregnant woman and her baby who died during labor in the central province of Thanh Hoa on October 19, 2013 / PHOTO: NGOC MINH

Police in the central province of Thanh Hoa have placed a doctor and a nurse under investigation for their alleged involvement in the death of a pregnant woman and her baby during birth.

Le Xuan Dung, 47, a doctor at Thieu Hoa District General Hospital, and nurse Hoang Thi Tam, 40, face charges of "accidentally causing death due to violations of professional practices," and are not allowed to leave their homes during the investigation, police said on Tuesday.

According to police findings, on the night of October 17, Nguyen Thi Xuan, 40, showed signs of a labor and was admitted to the hospital, where Dung and Tam were on duty.

After examinations, they said she and her baby were in normal condition.

Xuan had strong pains in her belly around 3 a.m., so her family asked them to give her a C-section, but the woman was not brought to the surgery room until two hours later.

About one hour later, Dung and Tam informed the family that she and her baby were dead.

Being informed of the case, the Thanh Hoa Department of Health assigned doctors to the hospital for an autopsy on October 18. Local police and prosecutors also came for inspections.

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When the autopsy was finished, Xuan's family laid the dead into two coffins on October 19, and placed them in the hospital's hall to demand that related agencies quickly reach conclusions.

In response to the agencies' advice, the family left with the escort of a police car.

But, instead of heading straight home, they marched to the house of Dr. Le Van Dinh, vice director of the hospital and who was  in charge of the shift in question. Some people broke into Dinh's house and damaged his family's things, regardless of police's presence.

Thousands of people, out of curiosity, followed the march, causing a long traffic jam.

Xuan's case is one of many maternal deaths that have made headlines in Vietnam in recent years, raising public concerns about the ethics and expertise of doctors and health workers.

According to a 2012 survey by the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Health, the maternal mortality rate in Vietnam is 75 per 100,000 live births, more than five times the rate in developed countries.

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