Choki Wangmo 

The health ministry and the Bhutan Medical and Health Council (BMHC) is investigating the case of institutional delivery in Gelephu Central Regional Referral Hospital (CRRH), where a 28-year-old woman succumbed to complications from birth earlier this month.

The case has sparked debates on social media, calling for accountability of the officials involved.

The progress of the case, however, is impeded by the current lockdown.

Director of BMHC, Kuenga Jamphel, said that an independent investigation team was formed to look into any malpractices and lapses in the case and learnt about it through social media. The inquiry team would leave for CRRH once the lockdown is lifted. The deceased relatives did not file a formal written complaint yet.

The relatives of the deceased suspect negligence and incompetence of the health officials on duty. Husband of the deceased said that days before delivery, they were reassured by the officials that everything was normal.

The mother was admitted to the hospital early morning on August 1 and her first labour pain started around midnight. The husband said that by 12.30am she was taken to the labour room by the team of nurses on duty. No emergency doctors were on duty until complications arose.

“The child’s head was out and normal delivery was not possible at that point in time. Emergency doctors were called and they arrived at the labour room at 2:30am.”

Since the mother couldn’t deliver, the doctors opted for an assisted delivery. After several attempts, the child was born.

The husband said the baby could be still-born or have died while he got stuck before the emergency doctors arrived. The doctors told him that the child could be brain dead and survival rate was 50 percent. 

After an hour, since the bleeding did not stop, the doctors told the husband that she required immediate surgery if the situation worsens. Few minutes after the husband signed the consent form for surgery, his wife was declared dead.

The husband of the deceased said that he strongly suspected that the doctors performed surgery on the patient during the one-hour examination and when they failed to save her life, the gynaecologist asked him to sign the consent form.

As per the death certificate issued by the hospital, the patient died at 5:15am and it was attributed to coagulopathy and uterine atony.

After a week, the infant was also declared dead.

Once the government lifts the lockdown, the husband said that he would appeal to local authorities and relevant agencies so that such unfortunate events did not happen to others.

The medical superintendent of CRRH said that the hospital had submitted reports to BMHC and the public health department about the incident. He did not want to comment since it would hamper the investigation. They are awaiting investigation team to sort out the cause of the death.