Cambodia shuts down maternity clinic after botched operation to remove dead fetus

Health ministry orders probe of all private clinics in case that has garnered widespread attention
By RFA Khmer
2022.12.08
Cambodia shuts down maternity clinic after botched operation to remove dead fetus Chheang Srey Oun and her husband, Pheng Voeun, at Calmette Hospital in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
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The Cambodian government on Thursday shut down and revoked the permit of a private maternity clinic after an unlicensed midwife there removed part of a woman’s intestines during a procedure to remove a dead fetus.

The case has received widespread attention in the country on social media and the news.

On Nov. 2, Chheang Srey Oun, a 22-year-old factory worker, underwent an operation at the Doeum Angkorng Maternity Clinic to remove a 5-month-old fetus that had died in her womb. 

A preliminary investigation found that she had been operated on by a licensed midwife named Ung Thearin, who had never been trained to perform that type of procedure.

The ministry also said it would pursue legal action against Dr. Sous Chanraksmey who owns and runs the clinic.

In response to the incident, Health Minister Mam Bun Heng last week ordered a probe of all private clinics and other facilities, and said that those found to be performing abortions illegally would be punished accordingly.

Abortions performed by trained and licensed medical staff are legal in Cambodia prior to the 18th week pregnancy.

Chheang Srey Oun was moved to a hospital in Phnom Penh, where she was receiving help from the Red Cross to pay for treatment.

Her husband had filed a criminal complaint against the hospital, but he told RFA’s Khmer Service Thursday that he withdrew the complaint after the clinic agreed to pay compensation.

Authorities would still take legal action against the clinic, said Soeung Seng Karuna, spokesperson for the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association.

“The prosecutor should have an investigation into the matter to find out the reasons behind the incident, how did the doctor make this mistake?” he said.

The president of the Cambodian Alliance of Trade Union, Yang Sophorn, said closing the clinic is not a long-term solution. She asked the Ministry of Health to improve measures to prevent similar incidents in the future.

“Our country has laws for when doctors breach their code of ethics,” she said. “They should be prosecuted.”

Translated by Samean Yun. Written in English by Eugene Whong. Edited by Malcolm Foster.

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