The Korea Herald


Thai envoy to fight wife’s death in Seoul, Bangkok

By Korea Herald

Published : Nov. 15, 2011 - 19:46

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The Thai ambassador to Korea plans to take the Seoul hospital where his wife died to court both here and in Thailand, embassy officials said Tuesday.

Ambassador Chaiyong Satjipanon has filed a criminal complaint with the Korean police accusing Soonchunhyang University Hospital of medical malpractice and a lack of professionalism leading to the death of his wife Thitinart Satjipanon. He intends to pursue similar proceedings in Bangkok.

He claims that staff negligence at the hospital’s international clinic led to his wife’s death on Sept. 19 at the Hannam-dong hospital, where she had been admitted three days earlier complaining of abdominal pain. 
Chaiyong Satjipanon Chaiyong Satjipanon

The Thai Embassy published Tuesday a detailed account of events leading up to Thitinart’s death, from the insertion of an L-tube to clear an obstruction in her intestine following her arrival at the hospital on Sept. 16, after which she was kept for observation.

The following day, she was overcome with pain and fainted after being taken for an X-Ray at 10 a.m.

The Thai embassy’s account states that: “The hospital made no effort to call any doctor, nurse or CPR team to rescue Madame,” while Korean staff of the Thai embassy sought assistance to no avail.

After failing to find help the party made the 20-minute trip back to the patient ward unaided. A medical team then took Thitinart to the Intensive Care Unit where she remained on a life-support machine until it was switched off on Sept. 19 at 9:30 a.m.

“It is our fervent hope that no other member of a diplomatic corps or any Korean would fall victim to the medical maltreatment, risk their health or meet with untimely death like the spouse of the Ambassador of Thailand,” the embassy statement read, adding that an autopsy conducted in Bangkok on Sept. 27 indicated that the cause of death was “the lack of oxygen to the brain and (lack of) prompt treatment.”

An embassy spokesman said Tuesday that the patient had a heart attack while awaiting assistance outside the X-Ray room, adding: “The cause of the heart attack was that she was shocked with pain and she did not get pain killers.”

The ambassador has called upon the Ministry of Health and Welfare and the Korean Medical Association to investigate the medical standards and management of Soonchunhyang Hospital and the international clinic, but neither authority has yet responded.

Satjipanon first made the allegations on Sept. 22 to officials at Yongsan Police Station against Soonchunhyang Hospital director Dr. Shin Byeong-jun, and International Health Care Clinic head Dr. Yoo Byung-wook and their staff.

Proceedings are being launched by the ambassador personally but the Thai foreign ministry is aware of the situation. Dean of the diplomatic community in Korea, Uzbek Ambassador Vitali Fen, has written to Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik and Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Kim Sung-hwan calling for a review of the hospital’s international services stating that: “It appears that due to the negligence and delay of the hospital authorities, proper and timely medical aid was not provided to the patient causing her untimely death.”

The hospital maintained that its staff had not been negligent nor were they guilty of malpractice.

A hospital spokesman said: “The hospital staff feel very sorry for the loss of his wife but the hospital did everything it could do. We are now cooperating with the police investigation.”

By Kirsty Taylor (