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Hospital chief admits mistake over Nation photographer

Nation Multimedia Group chairman Suthichai Yoon visits Nation photographer Sakol Sandhiratne at his bedside at Klang Hospital yesterday.

Nation Multimedia Group chairman Suthichai Yoon visits Nation photographer Sakol Sandhiratne at his bedside at Klang Hospital yesterday.

The director of a Bangkok hospital yesterday admitted that "a mistake" had been made after its medical staff stationed at Parliament refused to rush a news photographer to hospital after he collapsed on Thursday.

Phramongkutklao Hospital director Maj-General Chumpol Piemsomboon, however, denied the hospital staff were discriminatory when it came to emergency cases related to non-parliamentarians.

"We will make improvements from the suggestions obtained today, on matters such as moving patients. I admit to the mistake that happened," he told a press conference at Parliament.

There had been similar cases before, when MPs collapsed while at a House meeting and were immediately rushed to hospitals nearby.

However, Nation Group photographer Sakol Sandhiratne suffered a cerebral haemorrhage and was refused the hospital's ambulance that was on the Parliament premises on standby. His colleagues were told that the ambulance had to be on standby in case a parliamentarian needed to be taken to hospital immediately.

Sakol was later rushed to Klang Hospital by an ambulance from the Narenthorn EMS Centre, where he underwent surgery. Doctors also removed surplus liquid in his brain.

As of press time, Klang Hospital's deputy director Dr Supaporn Kornluck said the patient was still in a critical condition and had failed to respond to stimuli. "He requires further treatment and round-the-clock medical attention," she said.

Chumpol said yesterday that his hospital's medical team at Parliament had to take time to assess Sakol's condition - something that was difficult to do in a small ambulance.

However, Rajavithi Hospital's neurosurgeon Dr Methee Wongsirisuwan said yesterday that people suffering from high-blood pressure like Sakol should be taken to hospital immediately or they could risk a stroke. "Patients with high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease face a higher risk of stroke. They should be admitted immediately. Don't waste time observing primary symptoms," he said.

House of Representatives secretary-general Suvichak Nakwatcharachai yesterday voiced regrets about what happened, adding that it could have been avoided. He said he had already admonished parliamentary officials for acting slowly.

Chumpol insisted yesterday that no senior Parliament officials or politicians had ordered that the ambulance on standby not be used in this case. His comments were supported by House speaker's spokesman Wattana Sengpairoh.


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