Heath agency blames hospitals for maternal deaths

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Health authorities in central Vietnam's Quang Ngai Province are blaming doctors and nurses for the deaths of three women and three babies during deliveries at provincial hospitals since April this year.

The province's Health Department said in a recent statement, reported by news website VietNamNet, that the incompetence of doctors and nurses in charge was the main cause of the deaths of Le Thi Huong, 23, Nguyen Thi My Hanh, 39, their babies, Huynh Phan Thanh Tung, 33, as well as the baby of Tran Thi Van Anh, 29.

It said the staff members did not fulfill their duties as they examined, observed and treated the expecting mothers and their fetuses.

The literal cause of the death of Anh's postmature baby on June 22 was severe respiratory decline and the inhaling of its meconium (infant's earliest stools).

Investigations showed doctors at Quang Ngai General Hospital did not perform an ultrasound scan on the mother, did not check the baby's cardiograph recordings and failed to record the baby's heartbeat or the mother's contractions, although her water was of abnormal color when it broke.

A nurse had called for doctors to check the woman at 4:30 a.m. but they did not show up until 6 a.m.

Earlier, three doctors at the hospital including deputy head of the obstetrics department, were suspended for one week, pending an investigation.

Le Thi Huong, 23, died with her baby at the same hospital on April 20. The official cause of death was lung infarction, but investigations found that the nurse midwives should have observed the woman more carefully. If they had, they would have noticed abnormal signs and some medical intervention could have saved her.


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The doctors had failed to detect the woman's cardiovascular condition, the statement said.

Nguyen Thi My Hanh, 39, died on April 30 also at Quang Ngai Province General Hospital, due to a fetus distress.

Investigations showed she was left at the hospital unchecked for 36 hours, from her admission at 8 a.m. on April 21 to 8 p.m. the following evening.

Thus, several signs of fetal distress went unnoticed, such as a weak fetal heartbeat of 110-120 times a minute, and the woman's high blood pressure of 160/90 mmHg, and her red urine which indicates damage to her uterus.

Hanh received a C-section early on April 23. Her baby died soon afterward. Hanh fell into a coma, dying one week later.

Tung died at Mo Duc District General Hospital on June 9. The hospital did not assign her a doctor that day and there were only two nurse midwives in charge of observing her.

The Quang Ngai Health Department has asked the two hospitals to punish staff members responsible.

At least 18 maternal deaths have been reported since April this year. In some cases, the babies died with their mothers.

The problem also occurred in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, and the government has ordered the Health Ministry to clarify the causes and determine who should be held responsible.

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