Executives at Phuket’s Siriroj International Hospital denied an allegation that doctors refused to treat 23-year-old British tourist Jacob Tonkin until they received payment, as the tourist’s mother had told foreign media.
Tonkin, who suffered head injuries and a broken right leg in a motorcycle accident on Monday was being treated at the hospital and recovering, they told a press conference on Thursday afternoon.
The hospital’s move to clarify the situation stemmed from reports by UK-based news outlets, including the Daily Mail newspaper, that Tonkin’s mother claimed her son was left for dead following a hit-and-run collision and his travel insurance company refused to foot the 12,000 British pound (Bt536,000) medical bill.
The mother said she had started a crowd-funding campaign as doctors at the hospital refused to treat any of his injuries until payment had been guaranteed.
Hospital director Dr Dhun Damrongsak said that Tonkin was admitted on Monday following an incident in which a van crashed into the rear of a motorcycle on which he was riding pillion.
He sustained head injuries and a broken right leg and was immediately taken to the hospital’s critical care unit.
Two medical teams led by neurosurgeon Dr Lersak Leenanithikul and orthopaedic surgeon Dr Supachai Panpichet treated Tonkin.
As his brain injury was deemed to not require surgery, Tonkin underwent a one hour, 20 minute operation on his leg that night, Dhun said.
The patient’s condition improved without complications, so he was moved to the ordinary patient hall where he was recovering, Dhun said.
He would have to remain at the hospital for at least another week and so far his medical bills had amounted to Bt300,000.
During admission, Tonkin, who was conscious, told hospital staff that he had a travel insurance so they contacted the firm which then notified them that they wouldn’t provide protection for unknown reason.
Hospital staff then called his relatives while still treating him, in accordance with Joint Commission International (JCI) standards and the hospital’s policy to prioritise patient safety, Dhun said, insisting that the doctors did not refuse to treat him.
He said the hospital had explained the full situation to the British Embassy in Bangkok, adding that the foreign news reports may have stemmed from misunderstanding or miscommunication.
They would talk to Tonkin’s mother when she visited her son to determine if any miscommunication had taken place, Dhun said.