The medical council found that negligence led to the death of a snakebite victim in May 

Medical: Three health workers with the Nganglam Basic Health Unit (BHU) in Pemagatshel will be transferred for professional misconduct.

The health ministry will execute the transfer of a doctor and two nurses.

The Bhutan Medical and Health Council (BMHC) registrar, Sonam Dorji, said that the health ministry has to arrange for a substitute for the workers before transferring them.

Initially, a team of four officials in Pemagatshel comprising of the dzongkhag health officer, Noorbugang gup, chief medical officer and Nganglam dungpa investigated an allegation against a doctor of the BHU for negligence that led to the death of a farmer following a snakebite in May.

The victim’s son, Sonam Phuntsho, filed a complaint of negligence with the Nganglam dungkhag.

Sonam Phuntsho said that on May 24 his father had gone to maintain their drinking water source in Noorbugang gewog’s Ningshingborang village. While there, he was bitten by a snake and was brought to the Noorbugang BHU immediately.

The team submitted its investigation findings to the health ministry. The ministry found the report unclear, therefore, the health minister who is the president of the council directed it to form a committee and reinvestigate the case in July, Sonam Dorji said.

The professional ethics committee with the council reviewed the investigation report. It was found that the 72-year-old man died because of negligence by the doctor and his team.

According to the investigation report, the doctor and two nurses tried to cover up the case by tampering with hospital documents. The doctor falsely claimed that the victim was put on anti-venom treatment.

The investigation report also revealed that the doctor failed to monitor and pick up signs of envenoming.

“There is no documentary evidence of health staff having attended to the patient’s complaint because of this, the committee find that this was negligence on their part,” he said.

Reprimanding the staff that had attended to the patient for not doing what professionals are required to do and to conduct a competency examination for all categories of medical and health professionals applying for registration with the council were some of the committee’s recommendations.

The committees also recommended that fresh medical graduates should be attached to the referral hospitals for a minimum of six months before being posted to BHUs.

The committee observed that most of the negligence cases reported are of the doctors who are graduates of the University of Science and Technology, Chittagong (USTC) in Bangladesh, therefore, the committee recommend the health ministry to recall medical graduates of USTC.

Dechen Tshomo