Suspends the technician’s license and assures public that measures are taken to ensure patient safety 

Following the recent incident with a patient attendant at the national referral hospital, the health ministry has stated that it will develop a necessary Standard Operating Procedures (SoPs) and framework for strict compliance by all health workers.

This is to ensure that such cases do not happen again.

The 30-year-old anaesthetic technician confessed to having sexual intercourse with a 28-year-old patient attendant after injecting her with Fentanyl on April 5 night.

JDWNRH president Lhab Dorji, during a penal discussion on Bhutan Broadcasting Service yesterday, said the crime involving the anaesthetic technician is an isolated incidence in the history of the hospital. “Until now there has never been a crime like this committed by any of the employees either at JDWNRH or any other hospital.”

Lhab Dorji said there are 1,200 employees at the hospital and all are working hard to provide services to more than 500,000 patients every year.

However, he said it is not surprising that there would be one or two individuals who may not be abiding by their code of conduct.

Health secretary Dr Ugen Dophu, who was also on the panel said health facilities are places where people go during time of illness and need. When the very service facilities and service providers are a threat to patients, then patients will fear to come to the health facilities to avail services.

While the ministry has always promoted people to avail health facilities, this one unfortunate incident might decrease the utilisation of the health facilities by the people.

He said the ministry and the minister have sent a letter to all health facilities reminding them to report to the ministry of any incidences that could later become a major problem and also asking the health workers who work hard to not get discouraged by the incident.

He urged the health facilities not to neglect the mechanisms and to report any incidences to the ministry.

Health minister Tandin Wangchuk, in a letter to the health facilities, said he is profoundly hurt and distressed by the gruesome and extremely unpleasant incident.

A press release from the ministry states that the ministry is saddened by the unfortunate incident and extends its sincere condolences to the victims and their families.

“We are also comforting the family members of the anaesthetic technician as I, for one, strongly believe that the masses should never suffer for the error of one,” Lyonpo said.

“It is most unfortunate that this is a case of an individual health professional who has breached the professional code of conduct,” Lyonpo said. “It is even more disturbing that it happened in a setting regarded as the place for healing and wellbeing, and under the care of professionals who put their personal wellbeing and comfort aside to serve people in need of medical care.”

“The due process of law will now guide the decision for this unforgiveable act,” Lyonpo said. “He has not only harmed his own repute but also dented the virtuous image of the nation’s caring health system, which we have helped shape over the decades.”

Lhab Dorji said that when the patient attendant reported the incident, the hospital administration took a proactive action. “This is an individual who did not follow the ethics. He had planned to carry out the crime because he had taken the drug that he had used, investigated the ward and the bed number the patient attendant was attending to.”

When he called the sister in-charge of the surgical ward to send the patient’s attendant, the nurse asked which attendant. It was told that the suspect asked for the female attendant. “While we have installed CCTVs, employed security personnel, SoPs and norms in place, individual crime cannot be foreseen or prevented,” he said.

The president said that the hospital administration reassures the public that the hospital is doing everything to ensure that patient safety is paramount.

The hospital had done a series of meetings and henceforth, instructed that any calls made by health staff be verified. “We have to monitor access to the controlled drugs. We already have a mechanism to do that but now we have to enhance it by making it more strict,” Lhab Dorji said.

The hospital plans to install more CCTVs and biometric access mechanism.

Dr Ugen Dophu said the Bhutan Medical and Health Council would review and take the issue seriously.

The Council has suspended the anaesthetic technician’s registration since April 12.

Based on media reports and police’s investigation, an official with the council said that the council suspended his registration because there is a public safety risk and breach of Professional Code of Conduct.

The official said that the suspension is on until the court’s verdict. He said the council has also written to the JDWNRH to submit the incidence report, which will be reviewed by the council’s professional ethics committee.

Dechen Tshomo