The second death of a young woman in childbirth within just two weeks has raised more questions in Armenia about the state of local perinatal medicine. But the country’s health minister says one should not jump to conclusions as obstetrics is actually among Armenia’s most advanced branches of medicine in terms of its criteria and practices.
Julietta Gasparian, 23, who was 25 weeks pregnant with her first child, was transported from her native Gyumri to Yerevan late last month after developing heart problems. For days doctors at the capital’s Erebuni medical center fought for her life, but on August 4 she died.
Armenia’s chief cardiologist Hamlet Harutiunian told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service (Azatutyun.am) that the pregnant woman was brought to hospital already in a critical condition, but the intensive therapy applied did not give results.
According to Harutiunian, the woman’s family knew about her health problems and the risks that pregnancy involved for her. They did not immediately appear to have complaints against the actions of medical personnel.
Meanwhile, members of the family of another woman who died in Yerevan shortly after giving birth to a child last month demand that her doctor be prosecuted.
Mary Markarian, 26, died on July 26 presumably after developing pneumonia that also affected other vital organs and her newborn baby also died shortly after its birth. Markarian’s relatives claim the doctor at the Shengavit Medical Center neglected the woman’s complaints about fever for four days. The personnel at the Erebuni Hospital could not save the patient’s life when she was transferred there later.
A criminal case was instituted in connection with that case under a Penal Code article dealing with “failure to implement or improper implementation of professional duties by medical and support personnel that caused a patient’s death through negligence.” No one has yet been charged in the case. Shushanik Bakhshian, the doctor who treated Markarian, denied any wrongdoing.
Armenian Health Minister Armen Muradian regretted the losses, but said that maternal deaths were actually on the decline in Armenia. He said that eight such deaths were registered in 2014. During the first seven months of this year five maternal deaths have been registered in Armenia, he added.
Muradian said it was wrong to criticize doctors before the completion of investigations. “Armenian doctors are very attentive and caring doctors. One should not have an opinion about all medical personnel based on separate cases,” he stressed. “To make conclusions about the quality of medical services based on negligence shown by a separate doctor is out of step with the reality.”
The minister said that he had also ordered an expert probe into the death of Markarian and her newborn child. He gave assurances that all those found responsible for the deaths would be punished.