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Tatev Khachatryan

A Mother’s Death: Criminal Case Dropped Due to Medical Examination Board Screw-Up

Hetq has already covered a number of medical malpractice cases in which none of the doctors involved have been criminally charged. Here’s yet another.

Hospital advises family: “Make you funeral arrangements”

On March 8, 2014 attorney Gayaneh Davtyan rushed her 81 year-old mother, showing signs of a heart attack, to the Armenia National Medical Center by ambulance. The woman was immediately taken to resuscitation unit under the supervision of unit head Souren Makaryan.

When the patient was improving, the hospital wanted to conduct a computer sonogram and demanded payment from Gayaneh. “I knew that if the patient was transported by ambulance, that test was free of charge. The hospital said it didn’t apply to them,” recounts Gayaneh.

After the sonogram, the patient’s health was described as extremely grave. A few days later, the patient was feeding herself, sitting up in bed, and breathing on her own. The hospital ordered a second sonogram to track the changes.

The hospital staff quickly decided to move the woman, listed as extremely grave, to another unit; the neurological surgery unit. “I told them I was against the move,” says Gayaneh, adding that even the head of the neurological surgery department was against the move.

The patient spent the next seven hours waiting in the hallway until hospital staff decided what to do. After Gayaneh paid something in advance, staff took her mother to the neurological surgery unit. The patient health got drastically worse.

She was taken back to the intensive care unit. After calling the hospital several times to check on her mother, staff told her to start preparing the funeral arrangements.

Disgusted by the lack of professionalism, Gayaneh then decided to transfer her mother, now in a coma, to the Mikayelyan Surgery Institute. Her mother died twelve days later, on April 3.

A medical conclusion based on assumptions

Gayaneh contacted the police in early May and a criminal case of medical negligence was launched. A medical investigation into the case was ordered.

The court examination concluded: “It is possible to assume that the death of S. Otaryan was caused by brain edema and multiple organ failure.”

In its decision the court noted that such reasoning was not sustained given that the Mikayelyan Center hadn’t examined the patient’s cerebrum.

 The criminal case was thus dropped.

Hospital records fail to note the medications administered to Gayaneh’s mother. Nevertheless, in response to the investigator’s inquiry on the matter, the medical committee claimed “medical documents pertaining to S. Otaryan were filled out as prescribed by hospital procedure.

Ajapnyak-Mashtots Administrative Division Senior Investigator A. Khachatryan dropped the criminal case three times in 16 months. It has since been reopened.

On July 20 of this year, Gayaneh again went to the police to have the case reopened. She’s still waiting for an answer.

Patient pays hospital for state-financed treatment

After the death of her mother, Gayaneh found out that treatment was conducted as part of the state non-payment program.

“Looking through the case material, I saw that my mom was treated in that program. We purchased no additional medication. Treatment was conducted at the hospital’s expense,” Gayaneh says.

Nevertheless, Gayaneh says that the hospital gave her a list of medication expenses every day amounting to 18,000-25,000 drams. The hospital wanted her to pay them.

Armenia National Medical Center Resuscitation Unit Head Souren Makaryan denies that the hospital took money from Gayaneh or showed her such bills.

“No one took money from her. Who did she pay? Souren Makaryan told Hetq. “Let the court decide if we acted incorrectly.” Makaryan asked that we not bother him anymore on the matter.

Gayaneh, however, had already written to management at the Armenia Medical Center and has received a portion of what she paid.

Comments (1)

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