10 probed in blood test scam at Vietnam hospital

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Hanoi police said Tuesday they have started investigating 10 doctors and officials from a local hospital involved in a blood test scam that affected thousands of patients.

Among those who may face criminal charges are Nguyen Tri Liem, director of Hoai Duc General Hospital, and his deputy Nguyen Thi Nhien. Both have been suspended.

Liem and Nhien are being investigated for irresponsibility "causing serious consequences."


The hospital head and seven technicians at the hospital's laboratory were investigated on charges of "abuse of power."


According to police, the technicians made multiple copies of 1,495 blood test results between August last year and May this year, and  gave each result to between two and five outpatients of different age groups with different medical problems.


The motivation was to make money by charging for tests that were not administered, according to police.


The insurance fees paid for the tests are estimated at more than VND31.4 million (US$1,500) in total.


The fraud was brought to light after the Hanoi Health Department received a complaint from Hoang Thi Nguyet, a diagnostician with the hospital, accusing some doctors and technicians of copying and using the same blood test results for several patients.


The Hanoi health department started investigating the practice on May 21 and was joined by local police soon after.


Nguyet told news website VnExpress the scam was made possible because of overcrowding at the hospital. The ten-member testing faculty had to receive between 200 and 300 outpatients a day and perform 1,000-2,000 blood tests.


Then it became a "systematic fraud," she said.


Most of the patients brought their insurance cards, so the scam basically cheated insurers, and aimed to please patients who did not have to wait for their blood tests to be done, said Nguyet.


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