Date
18 August 2017
Queen Elizabeth Hospital is facing scrutiny following the deaths of two new mothers in the past three months. Photo: HKEJ
Queen Elizabeth Hospital is facing scrutiny following the deaths of two new mothers in the past three months. Photo: HKEJ

Hospital launches probe into deaths of women after child birth

Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) said on Thursday that it has formed a committee to look into the deaths of two women who died after giving birth at the hospital in the past three months.

Dr. Ho Hiu-fai, deputy chief executive of QEH, said the hospital is highly concerned about the two cases of death, one which happened in early October and the other late last month.

Describing the incidents as uncommon, Ho said the hospital will launch an investigation to determine the circumstances that led to the deaths of the new mothers.

While he believes the cases had nothing to do with the hospital’s internal system, Ho admitted that it was the same medical team that took care of the two women during and after delivery, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

Rejecting accusations that the team may have lacked experience, and insisting that was no attempt to cover-up the truth, Ho said the hospital had notified the Hospital Authority (HA) about the two cases, in line with the reporting mechanism on medical incidents.

Secretary for Health Ko Wing-man has ordered the HA to take necessary measures to make sure similar incidents will not happen again.

The first case occurred on Oct. 6, when a 26-year-old woman — said to be a police officer by profession — who had been pregnant for 37 weeks came to QEH for prenatal check-up.

Following an examination, a doctor suggested immediate labor augmentation as it was found that the woman suffered multiple illnesses that could endanger her baby.

An operation was conducted later that night and the baby was delivered in healthy condition. However, the mother suffered excessive bleeding of the womb afterwards and died of multiple organ failure and hemorrhage on Oct. 9 after attempts to save her life failed.

After a report about the case was revealed, a man surnamed Chung complained to i-Cable News on Thursday that his 33-year-old wife died in the same hospital late last month after she gave birth to their child there.

According to the man, her wife was 38 weeks’ pregnant when she was admitted to QEH on Nov. 28. Doctors decided on labor augmentation for her the same day after she was found bleeding.

But she suffered massive bleeding minutes after giving birth. An ensuing 10-hour operation failed to save her and she died two days later, the man said.

The husband said that he was told by a doctor that his wife’s heart once stopped beating during the operation, Apple Daily reports.

Suspecting that it was a man-made mistake that led to the death of his wife and that the hospital may have tried to cover it up, the husband said he has filed a complaint to the HA.

The hospital confirmed the case at a press conference Thursday evening, and promised to submit a report on the matter in six weeks after its investigation committee comes to a conclusion.

Dr. Cheung Tak-hong, who is in charge of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the Prince of Wales Hospital, is heading the investigation committee.

The committee is set to hold a meeting on Friday to find out if understaffing at the hospital or lack of experience of the medical team was a factor behind the tragic incidents.

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TL/AC/RC

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