A member of the public, Mr Loke Wing Keong wrote to ST Forum complaining about the poor handling of patient information at Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH). His letter was published today (25 Aug).
Mr Loke wrote, “My family and I are greatly disappointed by the poor handling of patient information at Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH).”
Mr Loke’s mother was admitted to TTSH and her condition was terminal. Because of her conditions, the doctors have allowed Mr Loke’s family members the flexibility to visit his mother without any restrictions. This is, understandably, to allow her to see as many of her family members before she passed away.
“Since the first day of my mother’s admission into TTSH, we had been informed by the doctors that any number of visitors could visit her at any time, because of the severity of her condition,” Mr Loke said.
“However, my family members were repeatedly denied entry outside of normal visiting hours.”
On the day Mr Loke’s mother passed away, his daughter even asked the TTSH receptionist to confirm twice whether the family would be allowed to visit outside of normal visiting hours.
The TTSH receptionist’s answer was “no”, even though they tried to explain that they had already been given permission by doctors to see Mr Loke’s mother anytime.
Mr Loke’s mother eventually passed away alone during non-visiting hours. The family members were not able to be with her when she passed away.
Mr Loke said that it was “particularly regretful as we were unable to be with my mother in her last hours, as she passed away during non-visiting hours”.
It was later found out that the problem was because TTSH staff had failed to update the system to reflect the health status of Mr Loke’s mother. Because of this computer error, Mr Loke’s family was not able to be with the mother in her dying moments.
Mr Loke also complained that the TTSH receptionist did not follow the standard protocol of calling the ward to confirm his mother’s status when they told the receptionist that they had already been given permission.
“After lodging our complaint with senior staff, they mentioned they would investigate and give us a reply within a day – which they failed to do,” Mr Loke said.
Hence, Mr Loke had to write to the newspaper, hoping that the same incident will not happen to other families.
“We hope TTSH will look into this grave issue so it will not happen to other families,” Mr Loke said.
Mr Loke’s letter was also forwarded to TTSH by the newspaper. In response, TTSH had written an official reply and it was also published today (25 Aug), together with Mr Loke’s letter.
TTSH said it will review its system and merely reminded its staff to be sensitive to patients’ families in their time of need:
We offer our deepest condolences to Mr Loke Wing Keong and his family on the loss of their loved one.
The hospital does relax its visitors policy when a patient has very poor prognosis.
This enables family members to visit during non-visiting hours and spend time with the patient.
We deeply regret that this was not carried out properly in the management of visitors for Mr Loke’s mother and apologise for the distress caused.
We have reminded our staff to be sensitive to our patients’ families in their time of need and will review the system to ensure it does not happen again.
We have contacted Mr Loke’s family to address their concerns and offer them support.
Eugene Fidelis Soh (Dr)
Chief Operating Officer
Tan Tock Seng Hospital
It’s not known if the TTSH staff involved in the incident are locals or foreigners.
Two months ago, TTSH fired blogger Roy Ngerng leaving him without a job, when he was sued by PM Lee for defamation.