Following kidney dialysis treatment, seven patients have died and one woman ended up in the intensive care unit at a hospital in northern Vietnam this month. 18 people were undergoing dialysis at the hospital when some of them reported feeing breathless, nausea and abdominal pain a mere 45 minutes post-treatment. Six of the fatalities occurred on the afternoon of 29 May and one more on that same night.

Said to be the country’s worst medical disaster in recent years, 11 people are still being treated after the incident at Hoa Binh Province General Hospital where the incident took place. All the victims involved were suspected to have developed an anaphylactic shock.

Hospital addresses the tragedy

Truong Quy Duong, director of Hoa Binh Province General Hospital said, “I would like to apologise to families and the whole community, we are very surprised at this rare incident.”

A criminal investigation into the matter has been launched as reported by police and the Vietnam Health Ministry recently to look into the suspected misuse of medications. The medical equipment and drugs in the kidney care department have also been sealed off at the government hospital. Police are also said to be guarding the intensive care unit.

Officials stated that 10 patients affected have since been transferred to a hospital in Hanoi and are said to be in stable condition. The Hoa Binh Province General Hospital will not be receiving any kidney patients while investigations are running.

Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam visited the Hoa Binh hospital and called for all available resources to aid the surviving patients.

Doctors and patients tell their side of the story

One of the patients, Nguyen Thi Bich Nguyen who works as a school teacher, went to the hospital for her regular dialysis treatment. Subsequently, things went downhill for her as she ended up in the intensive care unit.

While waiting anxiously at the general hospital, her husband Le Tien Dung, said, “She became itchy all over her body, she had a stomachache and vomited. My biggest hope is that my wife will overcome this.” The 47-year-old Nguyen is still in critical condition.

Located 80 kilometers off Hanoi, the hospital was swarming with patients waiting to be relocated. Quang, whose cousin had come for dialysis treatment before it was called off on that very day said, “The remaining patients were really lucky ... all of them were in shock.”

Speaking out over the shocking incident, Dr Hoang Cong Tinh who managed the affected patients overnight shared their pain and called the situation a “nightmare” as he worked hard to keep the patients alive.

“It's a huge loss. I feel pain as if I had lost members of my own family,” he said.

According to officials, relatives of the deceased patients have been compensated with USD$ 660.

Healthcare compromised over the recent years

Vietnam hospitals are divided between state or government owned and privately owned. However, government facilities are regarded as having a lower quality of care, especially in rural areas.

Just last December, a 7-year-old girl died in southern Ca Mau province after being given antibiotic injections for a respiratory illness. Two patients also died that same month following the administration of anaesthesia in a private hospital in Hanoi. In 2013, three children in Quang Tri were killed after being given incorrect vaccinations. MIMS

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