Vietnam lets French hospital scold itself for questionable death

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A probe by the Health Ministry into a man's death after an appendectomy at FV Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City found that doctors failed to act quickly enough to stop post-surgical internal bleeding.

But it said the upscale French hospital had not acted improperly per se, but that the man's death was related to a "complicated" cardiac condition, which had previously caused a stroke. Because it was a complex case, the ministry only required the hospital to rebuke its staff.

Mai Trung Kien, 57, died on August 11 of angina and internal bleeding due to the use of anticoagulation medicine. The hospital had been informed Kien was taking the medication by his family, the investigation concluded.

The ministry said Kien's surgery should not have been performed until certain coagulation tests had been conducted, but it did not blame the hospital for failing to do so, saying facilities for such tests are not available yet in the city.

FV representatives insist Kien's cause of death was a heart attack, rejecting the city's postmortem analysis.

But the ministry did not accuse the hospital of misdiagnosing Kien.

FV doctors diagnosed Kien as having suffered a heart attack when he experienced chest pain two days after the appendectomy. He was then transferred to Tam Duc, a leading private cardiology hospital where doctors determined the problem to be internal bleeding.

The man died immediately upon returning to FV.

Soon afterward, Kien's family filed complaints with city health authorities, the ministry, and the Ministry of Public Security, blaming the death on FV's misdiagnosis and tardy reaction.

Kien was one of the three recent fatalities at FV that led the State President's Office to order the ministry to launch an investigation late last September.

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Nguyen Thi Ngoat, 76, was admitted to FV Hospital in May to have surgery to repair her broken femur and doctors were informed of her history of diabetes.

She suffered from vomiting, high fever, high blood pressure and abdominal pain two days later. Her belly became swollen and she had difficulty breathing. She fell into a coma and died two weeks later.

The family said FV doctors failed to give a consistent explanation about her cause of death.

Nguyen Thi Can, 77, a sufferer of chronic kidney disease, was admitted in February last year, also with a broken femur. She later experienced difficulty breathing, and her belly, arms and legs became swollen four days after the surgery.

Then she developed a fever and died 20 days later of severe pneumonia and shock from an infection.

The families of the patients had lodged complaints, demanding the doctors be punished for malpractice and the hospital compensate them.

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