Two doctors and a nurse were sentenced to 3-5 years on Friday for mistaking Hep-B vaccine with a muscle relaxant when giving the shots to three new-born babies, leading to their deaths in 2013.
Quang Tri People’s Court handed down the highest jail terms to Nguyen Thi Thuan, the nurse that directly gave the injections to the babies at the Huong Hoa District General Hospital in the central province.
The hospital deputy director, Doctor Nguyen Van Thien, 55, was sentenced to three years, and Doctor Le Huynh Son, 40, who was in charge of the operation room, got four years' imprisonment for charges of “lack of responsibilities causing serious consequences.”
Tran Thi Hai Van, 35, a nurse in charge of the examination ward, was sentenced to three years' probation on the same charges.
The hospital was ordered to compensate VND77 million (US$3,580) each to the families of the three babies.
At the trial, Thuan said it was her biggest mistake during her 20 years working as a nurse and that she would be regretful for the rest of her life.
A father holds the body of a baby died after being given a wrong shot at the Huong Hoa District General Hospital in Quang Tri Province on July 20, 2013. Photo: Nguyen Phuc
Son also admitted that he was the one who put the muscle relaxant Esmeron into the fridge that stores Hep-B vaccines. He did, however, left a note that said "poisonous drug” on the bottle.
Meanwhile, Van was in charge of managing vaccines stored in the fridge.
According to the verdict, on July 20, 2013, Thuan was ordered to inject Hep-B vaccine to three new born babies.
There was a power blackout at that time, so Thuan used the flashlight of her mobile phone to find the vaccine in the fridge and mistaken the Hep-B vaccine with the muscle relaxant.
The three babies turned pale about half an hour after taking the shots and died soon later at the hospital’s emergency ward.
Thuan then recognized that she made the fatal mistake. She tried to destroy the evidence by secretly replacing the three empty bottles of the muscle relaxant in the trash bin with three other bottles of Hep-B vaccine.
She told the court she was so frightened by the babies' deaths that she couldn't think straight.