New mother's death ruled as misadventure

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 23 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 23 November, 2011, 12:00am


The husband of a mainland woman who died days after suffering massive blood loss during childbirth says he may sue Baptist Hospital, after a coroner ruled it as a death by misadventure yesterday.

Shi Jian accepted the verdict of Coroner Michael Chan Pik-kiu over the death last year of Mandy Yang Feng, but said he was 'extremely disappointed' by evidence provided by doctors, 'who did not tell the truth conscientiously'.

Shi said doctors shifted blame on others during the inquest and refused to take responsibility for Yang's death. The husband said he would consider further action, including a lawsuit against the hospital.

The 39-year-old businesswoman died in March last year after complications from placenta accreta, a rare condition where the placenta attaches too deeply to the uterus walls and may cause severe bleeding.

Chan ruled that the medical procedure, in which Yang lost 12.6 litres of blood the day she gave birth to a daughter, was lawful but had an unexpected consequence.

But Shi argued that doctors failed to provide blood in time. 'The apparent truth is ... blood [for a transfusion] did not arrive until 35 minutes after an emergency mechanism was initiated,' he said, citing testimony by one of the experts in the case.

Chan also ruled the cause of death was hypoxic brain damage resulting from severe blood loss inflicted by placenta accreta.

In yesterday's judgment, the coroner said anaesthetist Dr Tse Shing-lam, in calling for blood from the blood bank, 'might not have expressed his request clearly'.

Chan went on to describe as 'contradictory, incomprehensible and almost nonsensical' a sentence in Tse's medical report that stated: 'At 12.04pm, cross-match for four units [unmatched] was requested.'

A simple request for blood in operation theatres would refer to unmatched blood, which the bank could prepare sooner than matched blood because screening and cross-matching the patient's blood type was not needed, Tse told the court in an earlier hearing.

But Lau Bo-ping, a senior nurse assisting him on the day of Yang's operation, testified that she had never in her 20-year career received instructions to prepare unmatched blood.

The coroner deemed Tse and Lau as 'honest witnesses'. However, Chan refused to comment on criticisms by expert witnesses of medical procedures adopted by Baptist Hospital, saying the inquest was not a proper venue for debate over which medical theory or practice was better.

He said any recommendations should be decided by supervisory bodies such as the Department of Health, Medical Council and Academy of Medicine.

The health department confirmed yesterday that Baptist Hospital had evaluated its blood bank and improved procedures, including strengthening pre-surgery blood preparation - which had not been performed for Yang.

In a statement, hospital management offered their 'sincere condolences' and expressed 'heartfelt feelings' towards Yang's family.

In recent years, the hospital came under fire for a handful of 'mismanaged' obstetric cases that were mostly reported by victims' families.

Last month, a newborn suffered a head injury after it was dropped on the floor by medical staff. Two years ago, a 33-year-old Shenzhen woman died after an emergency Caesarean section, while another baby girl born at the hospital had fractured legs.