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Fire

Probe into hospital death

POLICE ARE investigating the cause of the Sunday night fire at Praram 2 Hospital in Bangkok's Bang Khun Thien district that resulted in the death of a patient, whose legs and arm were found tied to the bed.

Hospital director Dr Peera Kananuwat said yesterday Manote Thepsanguan, 42, was a regular patient who was being treated for alcoholism and a lung infection. He said Manote appeared to have mental problems such as talking to himself, following nurses and disturbing others. So, the hospital chose to tie him down as a preventive measure.

On Sunday night, the patient wanted to smoke and "went crazy" after his request was rejected, the director said. Therefore he was given anti-psychotic medication - Haloperidol - to calm him down.

The director said the man may not have been conscious when the blaze started due to the medication. He said two cigarette butts of the same brand were found on a balcony in front of the patient's room.

He said the hospital had fire detectors in every room, however, the one in Manote's room had been removed during renovations. The hospital has a rule against smoking inside but it would be difficult to find out if a patient hid cigarettes. If a patient was caught red handed, he would be denied treatment.

The director was speaking after meeting with experts from the Labour Ministry's labour safety and protection departments about the fire for two hours.

Meanwhile, Pol Colonel Nakharin Sukhontawit said the patient was admitted to the hospital on Friday and had two visitors on Saturday, who might have given him the cigarettes as the plastic wrapping of a lighter was found near his bed. The cause of the fire may have been the patient dropping a burning cigarette as he fell asleep.

Nakharin said an autopsy should show how the patient died.

Police had earlier said the fire might have started near the victim's torso as he had serious burn wounds on the right side of his body. Forensic officials found no sign of an electrical short circuit in the room.

Deputy chief of Department of Health Service Support Dr Tares Krassanairawiwong said initial findings showed the hospital did not breach any standards and that the "partial restraint" necessary.

The department will issue a warning letter to all private hospitals to perform a fire drill and ask the Medical Council and the Nursing and Midwifery Council to check the hospital's service standards further.


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