Hoa Binh General Hospital has been put under criminal investigation after seven patients died while undergoing kidney dialysis on Monday.
The Ministry of Public Security has sent officers to the hospital, 80 kilometers (50 miles) southwest of Hanoi, to assist in the investigation, which the health ministry called “the most serious medical incident in years.”
On Monday morning, 18 patients were being treated for kidney failure at the state-run hospital, but after 45 minutes on dialysis some reported nausea, abdominal pains and shortness of breath.
The hospital sent for help from Hanoi but it was too late for seven of the patients, who appeared to have died from anaphylactic shock. The remaining victims are under emergency care.
Police have completed forensic examinations and transferred the bodies of the dead to their families.
They have also cordoned off the area and temporarily shut down the kidney department. More than 100 patients who were receiving similar treatment at the department will be transfered to Hanoi to continue their dialysis, the hospital said.
Truong Quy Duong, director of the hospital, apologized to the patients’ families at a press briefing on Tuesday.
“I’d like to take responsibility for this incident. It’s a painful lesson for us,” Duong said.
The families of the deceased will receive VND15 million ($660) worth of what the hospital and the local government called financial support.
'Cannot believe I’m alive'
The patients who survived the incident have been left deeply traumatized.
“I cannot believe I’m still alive,” Le Thi Ram, 65, said after waking up from a 12-hour coma.
She said she started the procedure at 7 a.m. with four other patients. After a while, she experienced chest pains, breathing difficulties, nausea and numbness in her arms and legs.
“I told the doctor and he unplugged the machine.”
Ram had been receiving dialysis treatment at the hospital for nearly two years.
Van, another patient, also said her survival was "unbelievable."
The 54-year-old said that 45 minutes into the procedure, she started to itch all over her body, including in her ears, mouth and throat, before she vomited and fell unconscious.
Lan, 29, suffered similar symptoms but feels normal now.
“I really don't understand what happened. I feel very lucky.”