Doctor jailed for nine dialysis deaths that shocked nation

By Pham Du   January 30, 2019 | 10:22 pm PT
Doctor jailed for nine dialysis deaths that shocked nation
Doctor Hoang Cong Luong appears at the court in Hoa Binh Province in northern Vietnam on Wednesday. Photo by VnExpress/Pham Du
A doctor has been jailed for negligence leading to fatal dialysis procedures, a healthcare disaster deemed nation's most serious in years.

A court in the northern province of Hoa Binh sentenced Hoang Cong Luong, a nephrologist with the Hoa Binh Province General Hospital, to three and a half years in jail for his inaction leading to the series of deaths in 2017.

Luong was changed with "involuntary manslaughter."

Four hospital staff, including its director and deputy director, and two companies' directors responsible for cleaning the water filter system for the hospital's dialysis machine received between two and a half years and four and a half years in jail.

All defendants have been suspended from their positions.

The verdict said that although Luong was not responsible for the water used in the process, he must be well aware of the importance of the water filter system to dialysis. He did not check if the system was ready to use though he had known the repair work being done.

The court said Luong had been "negligent, confident in his own experience and performed duty out of habit."

The 11-day trial, which wrapped up Wednesday, was closely followed by the public, given how much the case has shocked the entire nation.

Hoa Binh hospital, 80 kilometers (50 miles) southwest of Hanoi, received widespread media coverage after the fatal dialysis incident on May 29, 2017. Nine patients died after suffering from nausea, abdominal pain and shortness of breath.

Health minister Nguyen Thi Kim Tien quickly pronounced the incident the "most serious" healthcare disaster in Vietnam in many years. 

Talking to the press after the trial, Luong said he was shocked with the verdict and that it was too heavy.

"I will appeal against the conviction at all costs because I’m innocent."

Public opinions are also mixed. While many said the verdict serves as a lesson for healthcare staff in Vietnam to work with due care, others said Luong was only part of faulty healthcare procedures and should not bear such harsh punishment.

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